when Christmas dreams are blue

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

With every Christmas card I write.

May your days be merry and bright

And may all your Christmases be white.[1]

White Christmas is a lovely reminiscence about a long ago holiday setting. It has an abiding appeal. The Bing Crosby version is one of the top-selling single records globally of any time, indeed, of all time. And its sweet, easily sung tune and endearing words are meant as evocatively tender plucks to the heartstrings of human nostalgia.

Still, for many, Christmas is not “the season to be jolly”, thus making this time of year’s widespread societal appeal to be joyful as nonsensical as those meaningless, though, yes, fun to sing syllables, fa-la-la-la-la.[2]

Indeed, Christmas can come robed not in white, bright colors, but rather blue, somber hues. The reasons both vary and are many.

For some, winter’s daily twilight-tinged skies become a visual portent of an increased incidence of seasonal affective disorder, for others, depression, and for still others, a profound existential crisis of despair about life’s meaninglessness of the sort portrayed in Ingmar Bergman’s 1963 classic cinematic tragic drama, Winter Light.

Moreover, the seasonal summons to be festive can be a painful reminder of incomparable losses. The loss of loved ones in death. The loss of companionship and the coming of loneliness at the demise of significant relationships. The loss of health and personal or financial well-being. The loss of peace of mind in the harrowing shadows of end-of-the-year reflections on past, seemingly irredeemable errors. The loss of life’s purpose and direction. The loss of a sense of achievement or attainment of goals.

Furthermore, Christmas’ mercantile encouragements to spend money can provoke an anxiety to present the perfect gift, verily, to be the perfect gift-giver, whilst incurring undue debt.

O’er the course of 60+ Christmases, I have encountered in my own life’s circumstances or through the lenses of the experiences of others all of these states of body, mind, and heart, self, soul, and spirit. And I have learned and I have repeatedly re-learned the following:

To seek and to trust competent and caring mental health practitioners so to guide me through the thickets of depression…

To seek and to trust in the truth of my own inner peace with who I am and what I have so to accept my ever-present human imperfections in relation to (indeed, in rejection of) the “perfect” sentimentally-designed-and-commercially-driven images of the season…

Above all and alway to seek and to trust God; my soul oft giving voice in gratitude,[3] personalizing the words of the psalmist:

I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let (my) foot be moved; He who keeps (me) will not slumber.

He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is (my) keeper; the Lord is (my) shade at (my) right hand.

The sun shall not strike (me) by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep (me) from all evil;

He will keep (my) life.

The Lord will keep (my) going out and (my) coming in

from this time on and for evermore.[4]

Footnotes:

[1] The second verse of the song, White Christmas; lyrics and music by Irving Berlin (1942)

[2] References to the carol, Deck the Halls, the English lyrics, written by Thomas Oliphant (1862).

[3] Gratitude, that is, my mindful and humble thanksgiving for who I am and what I have (thus, ceasing to fret or to have fear about who I am not and what I don’t have) and, especially, my thanksgiving that I know God to whom I can pray.

[4] Psalm 121

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2 thoughts on “when Christmas dreams are blue

  1. Thanks for this Paul! The holidays can be so tough for all of the reasons you mentioned and I’m sure even a few more. I have a college friend for example who was raped on Christmas Day when she was 11 by an uncle, while the family ate dinner in the next room. He told her he’d kill her parents if she said anything so she said nothing until she was 18.

    I’ve tried to be proactive this season, and have done all of the Christmas related tasks because I really have no clue what I’m going to be like next week. So I’ve planned very little until Christmas Eve so I can just hibernate if that’s what I feel like doing.

    I surely used to be one of those people who always tried to get the perfect gift. Now I see things totally differently. I want to spend “time” with people instead of spending money on them. That may not make everyone happy but I’m more focused on memories rather than material items at this point in my life. I’d rather play Scrabble and keep the score sheet to smile about the outcome later, or cheer for a kid learning to ride a bike on Christmas Day.

    You and I have talked in the past about your feelings in winter and how the seaon impacts you. I’ll not only be praying for myself to get me through this holiday, I’ll also be praying for you and all of the others who may not be overjoyed this holiday season.

    Much love to you and Pontheolla.

    Loretta

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    • Thank you for the kindness of your prayers. Know that I thought of you much as I wrote this post. Be assured of my continued abiding and abundant prayers for your perseverance and peace.

      Your comment about spending time with folk as opposed to money on folk resonates within me. I find it ironic that in my experience the more materialistic I become the less satisfied I am with what I have. I cannot acquire enough things to satiate my desire for more. When I relinquish my desire to have more, when I immerse myself in gratitude for whoever I am and whatever I have and without needing or wanting to compare myself to others, there I discover and rediscover that peace of God that surpasses my understanding.

      As always, thanks for reading and responding.

      Love always

      Like

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