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Sunday, November 27, 2016

No Blanket Approaches, Please!


(Note to readers:  This is NOT our house and not our Christmas decorations! Those that know us well know that the energy for this much decorating does not exist in this home!)

I have learned in life that there are people who absolutely love Christmas, those who absolutely hate it, and those who are somewhere in between.  

You can always tell those who really love the holidays.  Their houses have lots of lights, the decorations are up at the first opportunity, they wear Christmas ties or socks or sweaters, their radios are always set to the stations playing Christmas music 24/7, and they will have the most wonderful family meals you have ever eaten with lots of happy people and lots of presents under the tree.  Many of those who are Christian, and some who are not, will celebrate Advent and candlelight services and maybe a cantata or performance of Handle’s “Messiah” as well.  Among these folks that will be many who also have lots of wonderful memories to share from past celebrations of Christmas, often extending back to their childhoods.  These people are great people to be around when you feel like celebrating the birth of Christ.

Those who hate them tend to have lots of reasons for their hatred.  Some of them remember empty stockings and soup kitchens from Christmas.  Others have memories of those who abandoned their family at this time of year.  For some the Christmas holiday feels like nothing more than a pointed reminder that they don’t have the money to buy people presents.  Some of these people walk with fresh wounds of a spouse having just divorced them, or a loved one dying leaving them to face the holidays alone. Some despise the commercialism of a religious holiday, and then there are, of course, those who simply hate what the feel is a religious holiday being shoved down their throat.  Whatever the reason, generally speaking these individuals have lots of valid reasons they struggle, and in some cases, simply need some time to heal, or a way to find the path back to the meaning and real celebration of the Christmas holidays.

Those who are in between, are there for a variety of reasons.  While they may rejoice and celebrate the season, they may also have some mixed feelings for some of the same reasons others hate the holidays.  People who have been divorced often fit into this category, because even though life goes on, through the process of divorce there are some things that are changed forever.

Memories of baby’s first Christmas that once were shared and a source of bonding between mother and father often become harder to recall, and become reminders of the loss of what could have been.  What once had been simple celebrations in which one made holiday plans with the children often becomes a major negotiation process, with neither parent really experiencing the fullness of family celebrations that can more easily exist with intact marriages. 

What is the point?  

Well, simply to encourage you, my readers, to recognize that people are different, and their experiences are different, and so maybe a blanket “Merry Christmas to all” may not be the best way to approach this season with everyone you meet.  

Instead, I recommend some degree of sensitivity and working on listening skills, so that your expressions of love can be heard as that, rather than be experienced as calloused and uncaring empty words.  In fact, I might even encourage you to go one step further this year; why not seek out someone for whom this is likely to be a difficult time?  Let them know that your friendship is real, that your caring is more than surface, and find a way to brighten their lives just a bit.  It just might be the beginning of pleasant Christmas memories for someone you know.  And it might begin a special Christmas tradition of love for you, too!

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