COLUMN: Some Christmases will be blue

 Christina Crawford/Otterville United Church

Editor’s note: The following is a new column, A Journey of the Spirit, by members of a multi-denominational group of contributors from across Norwich Township. Christina Crawford is the minister at Otterville United Church.

The “season” is upon us once again, and everywhere I turn reminds me that Christmas is near.

My family and I have decorated the tree, have hung the Christmas lights, and I see that my neighbours have done the same. I received my first Christmas card last week, wishing me a joy-filled and happy Christmas, which brought to mind the well wishes that I, too, would like to convey to friends and family over the season. I have heard, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and other carols on the radio while driving in my car and observing the signs that holiday excitement is mounting within the community.

But not everyone is up for a holly, jolly Christmas, and nor should we expect them to be. Dealing with the death of a loved one, facing life after divorce or separation, coping with the loss of a job, living with dis-ease, and many other circumstances make holiday gatherings and joviality painful for many people in our communities. Yet, sometimes it appears that sadness and grief are unwelcomed emotions in our world, and we often find ourselves attempting to spread holiday cheer to those who really just need comfort, and understanding.

Jesus had some good friends- Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. When Lazarus died, and Jesus arrived after the funeral, Mary came to him sobbing about her loss. In response to this, Jesus did not offer advice such as, “Count your blessings. There are lots of people worse off then you.” He didn’t offer to take her holiday shopping to help relieve her pain, and nor was he quick with an aphorism or saying, such as, “It will get better. Time heals all wounds.” Instead, he allowed her to experience her pain, and the expression of it, and he shared in it: Jesus wept (John 11:35).

Can we give permission for people to experience all emotions during the holidays? Can we offer others the right to feel, not just joy at Christmas time, but sadness and anger too? Can we give them space to grieve, and dare I say, even encourage them in their grief -the way we encourage each other in our happiness and in our joy at appropriate times?

The book of Ecclesiastes, chapter three reminds us that there is a season for everything within this world. There is a time to be merry, and there is time to mourn. This holiday season, as we take time to share Christmas joy and cheer, let us also take time with those who need it, to have a ‘blue Christmas.’