Why Bother Admitting Our Cheerlessness?
Although we are led to believe that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” for some, it is the most difficult time of the year. Pushing through the holiday hailstorm of heightened emotions, unrealistic expectations, or fictitious happy family gatherings is humanly impossible. Those who already wrestle with mental maladies such as depression, or seasonal active disorder can hardly grin or bear up under such pressures. Even mentally fit folks find Christmas daunting and spreading good cheer, a tiring chore. But, perhaps if we take time to consider our customs and traditions and then decide which ones brighten or dim our hearts, then perhaps we can replace some of the cheerlessness with cheer.
To Keep or Not To Keep?
I grew up with a variety of Christmas customs, one that included attending midnight mass the night before Christmas. Each dark and snowy Christmas Eve, my parents bundled and carted all seven of us to church. Though I am sure their intentions were good, these outings did not leave me with joy. Instead of adding meaning to the season, it turned most members of my family into cranky, tired and combative individuals. As a result, I chose not to hold onto this tradition. Instead, when I had my own family, we found an easier way to honor the true meaning of Christmas while not missing any sleep. It seems that a rested family is a more joyful family.
My grandma baked, decorated and gave out flawless Christmas cookies. I am not the patient artist she was, but I still like to bake and give away cookies. It is an opportunity for me to trek through my neighborhood, ring doorbells and chat with new and old acquaintances. I find it is a win-win tradition. I get the pleasure of wishing my neighbors a merry Christmas while they enjoy a sweet treat in return.
Christmas, more than any other holiday, seems to hold opportunities for countless entertainment—pageants, musicals, plays and parties. It is also a season in which we can learn to compromise with those we love. Understanding that not everyone wants to watch yet another Christmas play, attend another Christmas party or even listen to Christmas music will bring peace and harmony into any household. Staying tuned to the wishes of each other during this season is a simple way to spread good cheer.
Why bother admitting to cheerlessness? It is worth recognizing when our traditions dim instead of brighten our hearts. When we do, then we can choose to replace them with ones that bring comfort and joy.