Written by cycleguy on December 16th, 2014

This is a post which is not easy to write. Not because I don’t have anything to say (as if…). But more because I don’t want to say anything which may add to the tone of why I am writing this post.

As a pastor I see a lot of hurting people. My office. Sunday worship. Restaurants. Meetings. You get my drift. Ironically, Christmas is one of the most devastating times for hurting people.

Lost love.

Death of a marriage.

Death of a loved one (and possibly the first Christmas without them).

Tight finances.

Poor physical condition which makes celebrating hard.

Holiday depression.

The reasons for the hurt vary. And I am certainly not one who will make light of that hurt. I went through the “first Christmas syndrome” with both my own mother and my in-laws. Some take it harder than others. Because I am a man (Strike 1); knew where they were now (Strike 2); and had my family around for Christmas (Strike 3); I sort of “glided through” the holidays. I was never an emotional wreck during the holidays because of those three “strikes” against me. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the hurt.

But, I’m also not naive. I know there are people who suffer much more deeply than I did.  Years have passed for many and they still cannot stand the holidays. I’ve had this post rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks now, but there are two who actually, not only beat me to the punch, but say it much better than I do. A new blogging friend, Deb, wrote an excellent blog about questions asked during this season.  My friend, Kari, who is in the process of writing a book on depression, has been writing a series of posts dealing with “holiday depression” and how to deal with it. It starts with this one and follows with three more. They give an excellent perspective on facing the holidays.

Here is my summary: everyone faces the holidays in a different way. Some enjoy and celebrate. Some are devastated. Some cover. Be aware of those around you. Keep your eyes open to what people say and how they react. Watch your words carefully, especially if you know someone is hurting. Give a listen. Give a shoulder. Give some face-time if needed. Sometimes all that is needed is for that person to know they are not alone. How about inviting someone who is alone to your Christmas get together? No one should spend the holiday by themselves.

Here is a song (albeit not a “Christian” song) which talks about the hurt the holidays bring. Click on Show More if you need help with the lyrics.


29 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    Great post. I would also say that folks should make sure to celebrate the little successes and moments in their lives so when the dark times hit they have a point or two to cling to until the waters recede. Without such celebrations or remembrances, it is too easy for revisionsim to make it seem that life has always been hard and joyless.

    • cycleguy says:

      Glad you added that point Daniel about celebrating the little successes. We do tend to forget small things in the heat of battle. Thanks.

  2. I don’t really face any sort of Christmas depression, so it is very difficult for me to understand what those that do are going through. I hate it for them as I always joyous

  3. Eileen says:

    You offer some good tips, Bill. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our own little to-dos and agendas during Christmas that we overlook those who really just need someone to be present.

  4. Caleb Suko says:

    Very good reminder Bill. I remember growing up my dad worked as a fire/police chaplain, the busiest time of year for suicides was the holidays.

  5. Good thoughts my friend…may the great Comforter love through us to the hurting souls all around us.

  6. Wise words here, Bill. December can be a nightmare, yes, even for those who love God passionately.

    If we can step out of own self-absorption, just maybe we can be an encouragement to another soul …

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks Linda. Loving God passionately does not remove us from the hurt and pain which comes. But we do need to step out of self-absorption.

  7. Kari Scare says:

    First, I’m humbled to be included as a resource in this, Bill. Second, you do a pretty good job yourself, especially in the “Here is my summary” paragraph, of giving advice. For not experiencing depression personally, you sure know how to be a help for those who do struggle with it.

    • cycleguy says:

      I thought of you first Kari since you have and are dealing with this. I am glad you are not hiding behind a mask denying it but “putting yourself out there” for others to see and hear your story. And thanks for the kind words.

  8. floyd says:

    Good advice, Bill. You’re advice is exactly what we should be doing year round anyway. Everyone wants to matter, and indeed they do in our Father’s eyes, which is why they should in ours. A needed reminder. Thanks, brother.

  9. Wonderful advice, Bill, which I will take to heart. This will be our first Christmas without my dad, and I’m already feeling the hurt during this season. I will make a point to observe others around me more closely and reach out to them if I sense they need comfort.

    • cycleguy says:

      Glad I could help Martha. The hurt starts early and stays late for many people. I have one especially in the church in which it will be a real hard time for her. You approach it well though by keeping your eyes open to others.

  10. Betty Draper says:

    Good words Bill and thanks for the resources. Yesterday one of the guys who was in our dorm in Bolivia lost his wife to cancer. A husband with two young children now facing Christmas without his mate. My heart is so sad for him…which has made me more aware of others around me who are hurting. I cannot fix any of these hurts and in most cases only offer prayer for them and an encouraging word. Kari post was a good read, now I need to go read Debs.

    • cycleguy says:

      Glad I can supply those resources Betty. I believe Chuck Swindoll once wrote, “There are no original thoughts.” I rely on others in a big way. You are right about the inability to fix them but you can pray to the One who can on their behalf.

  11. This is such an important topic. I would love to hear a sermon on it, but never have. Our expectations are such a big part of the problem. I have kept hoping for an idyllic Christmas when that makes no sense. The second problem is memory. I remember holidays like most people do–they’re seared into my memory. I think we can fix this by recognizing that amidst any negative memories were some positives. We just ignored them. We can also stop believing that the best Christmases are behind us. Finally, we can be proactive in creating a meaningful Christmas despite the imperfections. We can invite someone new over as you suggest. We can travel. We can arrange to spend time with those who don’t tear us down. I have felt like I *have* to see certain people, but I don’t. The truth is, every single day is Christmas–God with us. That means it will be ok!

    • cycleguy says:

      That is a fantastic idea Melanie. I will have to stash it away since my sermon is already done for this Sunday. :)I really wish I had had your thoughts to include in my post. They are really good.

  12. Deb Wolf says:

    Excellent summary of December emotions Bill. As a pastor I’m confident you’ve seen people cope in many different ways. Thank you so much for your kind words and for pointing your readers to CMB. I’m humbled and blessed by your encouragement. God’s blessings to you and your family.

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks Deb for your kind words. Thanks for your consistently good teaching on your site. Hoping you have a Christmas filled with wonder.

  13. Ed says:

    Sometimes I wish my entire family and friends, both in the city and on the East Coast, could get together for Christmas. One of my cousins in Miami was feeling lonely, so I brought her a plane ticket so she could come down and join us for the Holidays. Wouldn’t you know it…(I knew it was going to happen), because of delays, she missed her flight tonight.

  14. Ed says:

    And I couldn’t even imagine being a pastor with the heavy burden you are feeling for people right now. God bless you Bill!

  15. My grandmother spent Christmas last year in the hospital. She was there for a few weeks until she passed. So this year, I’m remembering her and what our family went through last year. I wouldn’t say I’m emotional, but mainly just that it shows you how quickly your life can change.