With the holidays upon us, there are many who suffer the most through these days. They go unnoticed because, well, it may have never been “our” experience. Most of you reading this “probably” grew up in at least a semi-normal situation, complete with family and friends and presents under the Christmas tree. But for some – this was never the case – they are the silent sufferers you interact with every day, but you’d never know it because they are too proud to let anyone in on their pain.
Perhaps they struggle with addiction as a result, or perhaps they are workaholics so they don’t have to face their past. Perhaps they have moved beyond the everyday pain, but they still are pierced every time they hear a Christmas song or see twinkling lights. Do not assume they are the exception because in reality, the “normal childhoods” are the exception. I have learned over the years that we have many many people in our midst who suffer in silence, who are addicted, who have rocky relationships, and who go from job to job simply because there is no one there who really sees them.
There’s really a truth in “Blue Christmas,” and I love the article written last year of an Episcopalian rector who offered a blue Christmas service to reach out to those in his community who struggle the most during the season (see link below).
While I personally love the music and lights and snow and excitement that comes with what I consider to be a beautiful season which celebrates the birth of my Savior, I realize that doesn’t mean my neighbors or friends feel the exact same way. I choose to not expect them to. I choose to allow them to feel the way they feel. I choose to honor their choice in not celebrating. I choose to meet them where they are and just be present (no pun intended).
Allowing someone to be blue without trying to change them and manipulate them into your own joyous plans is perhaps the greatest gift you could give them. Do not lay guilt trips if they choose not to attend your holiday party or church candlelight service – it’s not about you and it’s not a reflection of how they feel about you as a person. When all the holiday buzz has come and gone, reach out to your friend, grab a cup of coffee, and ask them what they’d like to do that brings them joy – then join them in their adventure.