This year, for whatever reason, it is really heavy on my heart that not everyone enjoys the “Holiday” season, as much as everyone else. There are hundreds of reasons a person might be blue in the green and red season. It could be because their family is split up, and they want nothing more than to be with their family, but can not. Others are missing members of their family and it does not feel the same without them. Perhaps a spouse, mom, or dad is deployed overseas. Maybe the holidays are difficult because of a lack of family, or the recent loss of a loved one.
I am reminded of someone I used to work with. He passed away while I was on staff at a particular church. Every Christmas day, he would take his family to El Goucho for dinner. If you are unfamiliar with El Goucho, it is an upscale restaurant, where I am made to understand it costs about $100 per plate. He could afford it, no doubt, but it still was a bit of a curious tradition to me. I knew a little about his background, but found out much more at his memorial service: He was an orphan, a product of the foster care system. After graduation from high school, he joined the military and found his first family, the United States Army. After finishing his military career before meeting his wife, his Christmas tradition was to go Denny’s for dinner, the only company he was was the server bringing his food and checking to make sure it matched his expectations. No wonder he took his family to El Goucho for Christmas dinner!
I digress… perhaps, it is because I am very mindful of a number of people who have lost loved one this year that I am thinking about people who may not enjoy Christmas as much. I know one family whose daughter was murdered in February, another who unexpectedly lost a grandfather, another family lost an early 20’s son, and another who lost their 2-year-old daughter. I could go on, but that is not the point of this post.
Perhaps you know someone who for some reason may not be enjoying the Holiday Season this year. Here are some thoughts that I have that might help you with someone who may not need some extra help having joy:
1) Invite someone who has expressed their dread of the holiday season to take part in however your family celebrates. A year away from the normal routine for them may help them work past their grief and difficult feeling about the holiday. Don’t pressure them to be a come, but make sure they know they are invited. If they do come, include them in your traditions, but allow them room to come and go as they need. Though it may have been months or years since whatever causes them to not like Christmas, it may bring back feels that they need to process on their own.
2) Ask them what causes them to have a hard time with the holidays. I have found that talking about my feelings really helps me to feel better. Remember more often than not, people just need a listening ear.
3) Allow people to grieve in their own way. Grief does not take a single form and look the same for everyone. Everybody grieves differently. Maybe someone might want to set a place setting for a lost loved one, or follow a certain tradition in their honor, visit a place that is special to their relationship, or buy a holiday ornament in memory of someone. Though it may seem a bit odd, it means a great deal to the person in grief.
4) Pray. Of course, pray for God’s comfort in only the way that he can comfort the hurting. I am reminded of something I read on twitter either yesterday or this morning (in twitter time, that is like months ago, so naturally I don’t remember who it was): God did not promise us a life of ease. If he had, there would have been no need for the comforter.
Be mindful of those who are celebrating the first holiday season without a loved one. My grandmother passed away in February this year, and because I rarely saw her it did not dawn on me that this was the first thanksgiving without her until my dad mentioned something.
Go forth and spread good cheer, appropriately.