I feel like I have more people in my life who are waiting for Christmas to be over than who are actually waiting for Christmas. I must admit that I number among them, but I am feeling that way mostly because the season has been exhasuting and I need a break. For others, the sadness comes from much more extreme factors: loneliness, estrangement, missing a loved, recent deaths, chronic illness… I could go on. There’s a lot of hurt in this world and the season just seems to amplify the hurt.
So how do we love people through the stresses of the holiday? First and foremost I think it important to let people feel their disillusionment with the season. I think trying to talk people into feeling some sort of artificial happiness or invalidating their feelings just adds to the hurt that people may be experiencing.
I have found that people need a listening ear this time of year more than other times. Usually, if you listen long enough, you hear what it is that makes the season hard for others. That seems incredibly obvious, but we don’t listen well this time of year because of all of the busyness. All the running around makes it difficult to hear the heart of another, even it we want to do so.
If it is someone with which we have a close relationship, we can ask if we can be with them in their loneliness. Generally speaking, I think isolation is a negative thing. I say this as an introvert with a penchant for self-isolation. Asking people if we may be with them in their pain respects whatever boundaries that might exist.
Sadness often comes from the high expectations placed on the season. I think we help people out by allowing for some grace. Being sensitive to people who may not have resources we have. Being mindful of those who may be alone on or around the holiday. Creating space for people to vent, cry, drink, swear, laugh… and just be. Granted, we probably should be doing this for one another all year round (we definitely should) but we absolutely need to be there for people who experience this time of year in profoundly painful ways.
We need to love each other. This season is not light and joy for everyone. Be alert and love your neighbors for whom this is a dark time.