It's OK to Be Sad at Christmas
I finished our Christmas cards early this year. Wrote a nice "here's what we've been doing" letter to include. Got them in the mail. We sent them out early this year because we bought a new home just this summer and many on our extended family and friends list don't have the new address.
While I felt good that I could mark "holiday cards" off my to-do list, I found myself walking around with a gray cloud over my head. It took me a couple days to realize I was actually sad and a bit depressed. Most years I spread out the Christmas card writing over a couple weeks; I've never done them all within two days. While addressing the envelopes, I found myself thinking about each person and family. There is joy in that. But there is also sadness.
Sadness because of those envelopes that didn't get addressed. My parents have been gone for quite some time and so has my sister. I miss them. I miss them very much. My younger daughter has moved to another state...very far away...and I miss her. There is a divorce pending in the family, and this is sad. I had to write two separate envelopes when last year there was just one.
What occurred to me, though, was that this is the way of life. Nothing ever stays the same. People are born and people die. Marriages are created and marriages break apart. There are joys and there are hardships. What Christmas time tends to do is to put a spotlight on all of it. And you know what? That's okay.
I realized that it is okay to mourn the break-up of this couple -- it is an appropriate thing to do. It's natural to miss my parents and sister, especially at this time of year. I'm very glad I have great and wonderful memories of them. I can choose to celebrate those memories as gifts this Christmas. I can choose to send warm loving wishes to the daughter far away and rest in the knowledge that she is happy where she is.
Most of all I realized that Christmas time is not the time to buy into the myth of carefree happiness. Is Christmas fun? Sure. Is it a happy time? Can be. Does my sadness take away any of its specialness? No. It just makes it more poignant.
So I'll embrace those things that are sadness-worthy, and I'll embrace those things that are shiny and bright. My Christmas will be a real one...by choice.
Linda C Smith, Artist and Writer