Death and Christmas don’t go together. They collide like to rams on a mountain side. You can hear the collision.
Depression and Christmas don’t go together. They are like two singers singing different songs in different keys. You can hear the dissonance.
Just because they don’t go together doesn’t mean they don’t go together.
They do. All the time.
Christmas is a difficult time for me for those two reasons. I have more reasons, but this will do for now.
There are families that will be spending their first Christmas without a loved one or they will be spending their last Christmas without a loved one.
There are families with children or parents that are depressed or wrestling with depression and the hap-happiest time of year is anything but for them. They joy and cheer that is on the radio or in people’s faces heighten their sense of loneliness and despair.
So what do you get a person for Christmas that might be having a tough time?
Here are some ideas for the perfect Christmas “presence”.
- Be with someone and listen. There is no fixing or assembly required.
- Make a phone call to let them know you are thinking of them. It is encouraging to know you are not forgotten.
- Write a thoughtful note. It is really good to hear how we’ve affected someone’s life.
- Go where others fear to go. Nursing homes, cancer wards, and the rooms of the sick and dying are really depressing and people avoid these places because it is depressing. Hmmm, I wonder how the sick or dying person feels? Go and laugh and cry and celebrate and mourn. You can make a difference.
By doing these simple things you will demonstrate a couple of Christmas truths. First is that Christmas and hope go together like peanut butter and chocolate, unicorns and glitter, or milk and Oreos. Christmas is all about hope. It is all about finding out that we are not alone to fend for ourselves. It is all about finding out that we are not forgotten. It is about finding out that we are deeply and sincerely loved.
Second is that Christmas is all about presence. Christmas is a story about Immanuel, God With Us. That God came to be with us, to live like us, and show us the way to everlasting life. God spent time with us and, I think, wants us to spend time with others. And those others are, at least many of them, folks we might want to avoid. God didn’t avoid the sorrow and pain of this season. He dove in with both feet.
Merry Christmas and I hope you give lots of presence this year.