Fighting the Christmas Blues
December 1 heralds the approach of the silly season. Already Christmas carols are blasting over the airwaves, a reminder that the season is just around the corner.
Christmas is no longer about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The commercial element has been included over the years, giving rise to the mandatory Christmas cake and sorrel, Christmas shopping for gifts for friends and family, as well as buying new stuff for the home. Of course, there is the total decorating transformation of homes to suit the Christmas season.
It is no wonder that for some families Christmas has become a burden, but even more so for those who are alone. Instead of joyful anticipation, it is a sense of dread and doom. Every smiling face or family grouping is a painful reminder of what they are missing out on.
Getting in the mood is a task which seems to be beyond many persons in situations like these. It is for this reason that Family and Religion reached out to Pastor Joan Gumbs of How Ya Livin' Now for answers.
The solution for Gumbs is to exorcise the misery loves company theory and spend the holidays with other singles. This, she says, can be done by issuing an invitation to them or accept theirs if its offered.
"Not only will you be able to spend time together and be each others company, but you will also get an opportunity to bond the way Jesus intended: Iron sharpens iron," she advised.
The single Christians, she suggested, should involve themselves in the church Christmas programmes.
"Most assemblies have a Christmas cantata, where plays and chorales are practised right up until the main event on Christmas Sunday. This activity will keep you occupied, and help take your mind off your singleness. This is also one way the church can actually help its single members, by identifying them, and actively engaging them," she shared.
NOT ONLY SINGLE PERSONS
Single persons are not the only ones who suffer from the Christmas blues. Gumbs points out that many persons who are caught up with the family festivities tend to forget the widows, the shut-ins and orphans in the various children homes who are yearning for even a touch of the Christmas cheer.
"Nothing takes your mind off your own problems more than when you start thinking of others," the pastor said, noting that it is a win-win situation for all concerned. "Those who are home alone and feeling the blues get to spread cheer to others who need it the most. In return, the sense of accomplishment and joy they receive from this outreach will shove any feeling of being lonely and blue aside," she added.
With Christmas' main focus being on spreading joy and cheer, Gumbs advises relatives to make an effort to engage those who are not into the festivities by 'drawing them out of their shells'. "Plan activities that you think they would like and make sure you follow through by actively engaging with them," she said.
Still, Gumbs points out that not everyone will be receptive to your reaching out, as some are aloof and just plain difficult when it comes to getting them to be a part of any festivities. She encourages not to throw in the towel and leave them to their "miserable self". Instead, apply creativity to penetrate the barriers they have erected.
"Don't let their aloof and tough personas fool you; sometimes these people need love and encouragement the most," Gumbs argues. "When they see you are not avoiding them, but you're there for them no matter what, this unconditional love will actually draw them to you. And before long, you will be doing things that they wanted to do before, during or after the Christmas season."