…so, my buddy, CB, always gets depressed this time of year.
According to a host of counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, he’s not alone.
Studies differ on the percentages, but agree that feelings of anxiety and sadness are elevated during the holiday season. The reasons given range from:
- fatigue (given the schedules many people set for this time of year), to
- fewer hours of daylight (our bodies produce Vitamin D from sunlight and, according to too many medical studies to cite, Vitamin D impacts our mood), to
- financial limitations (which may be true the whole year through, but folks are more keenly aware of it due to social expectations surrounding gift-giving and party-going), to
- family tension (if this is you, there is no explanation necessary)
…and all sorts of things in between!
Even Elvis Presley warned listeners of the risk of a Blue Christmas!!
CB struggles with low self-esteem anyway, but boy does it ramp up in the holiday season – a time of year that he feels is set aside just to remind him that he’s not all that popular… like a Facebook page with a single-digit friends count staring back at you each time you log-in.
CB recognizes, at a very deep place in his soul, that ‘commercialization’ is sort of out-of-control and that Christmas must be about something more.
He knows, at a heart level, the fixation on money and the generally competitive nature about everything from out-giving someone else to winning the neighborhood lights display battle is a dead-end street.
But, his strategy for dealing with all of it (isolation, withdrawal, a judgmental attitude) has not resulted in any sort of holiday cheer or sense of meaning.
So a few years back, he sought the advice of a professional (way before there was Dr. Phil there was Dr. Lucy) who suggested what he needed was involvement (the opposite of his first response).
As a way of getting involved, Chuck took on a task… and not just any task, but the task of directing other people on a task.
Instead of pulling away, Chuck gave himself totally to his task.
But, the people he was trying to direct were distracted by the holiday spirit… they wanted to sing, dance,… CELEBRATE!!
You take a guy who is trying to find his purpose in tasks and make him the director of a bunch of folks who really want to CELEBRATE and you have a recipe for, well, more depression.
Frustration, anger, and deepening sadness… that was CB’s story.
His reaction to the failure of finding joy through involvement, turned to the attempt to rescue an underdog… a little, green, homeless Christmas tree… yet another ‘all about me’ effort.
And, the people he was failing to direct anyway were not nearly as excited about the idea of rescuing a homeless tree so CB could be the hero.
There was just so much confusion regarding what Christmas was all about: commercialization, competition, burying yourself in work, feeling better about yourself by helping an underdog, presents, money….
In frustration, CB cried out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”
Fortunately for him, he had a friend who was not afraid to step into the center-stage of his life and tell him exactly what Christmas is all about.
If the counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and Elvis Presley are right, some of you are feeling a little blue this Christmas season, too.
Part of the reason for all of that is likely, at some soul-level, you are all but certain there is more to Christmas than those things that bothered my buddy Chuck.
Maybe, like him, you have dealt with your mixed emotions by isolating yourself from others, or by burying yourself in your tasks.
Maybe you, too, have found something of a scroogy-little judge living inside of you, looking down at people who are celebrating when you want them to be working.
Since I could do no better than CB’s friend, Linus van Pelt; his message is the one I’ll leave with you this Christmas, 2011:
And there were, in the same country, shepherds, abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And lo, the Angel of the LORD came upon them, and the Glory of the LORD shown round about them, and they were sore afraid.
The Angel said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. Unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior; ‘tis Christ the LORD.
And this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger.’
And suddenly there was, with the Angel, a multitude of the Heavenly Hosts, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace; goodwill toward men.’
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”