Today as we prepare for the Christmas holiday, I want to acknowledge how this time of year can be difficult and wearisome. In our area of Northeast Ohio, we get very little sunlight this time of year. Add in the fact that the days are shorter and the nights are much longer, we often joke we feel like vampires. To me, that is not a joke. As someone who was born to a family that likely had clinical depression, but never got officially diagnosed, I have come to the terms of the fact that I deal with a condition called SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder. This condition causes clinical depressive symptoms that occur in the late fall and winter months, basically improving significantly in the spring. That being said, we also have a time of happiness, commercialism, people missing from our lives and this TERRIBLE gray sky that can make this time of year very hard. While the whole world talks about “the most wonderful time of the year” and “holly jolly Christmas”, some of us want to pull the covers over our heads. I’m here to tell you this is OK. In the past few years, I’ve embraced the practice of Advent. I’m not disciplined about the candle lighting, but I honor that the weeks preceding our celebration of the Christ Child are hard for me and for others. For me it’s because I’m biologically predisposed to depressive symptoms.
Add in that I’ve experienced so much loss at a young age, and it is no wonder that it is a struggle. For others ,there may be other reasons. The important thing is acknowledging the fact that we don’t HAVE to be joyful and we don’t have to fake it. On December 21, the beginning of winter (solstice) is observed. I, personally, celebrate this day. To me, it is a sign of hope- that the sun will shine again and we will have more joyful days. A few short days later, we observe Christ’s birth which is the beginning of the greatest miracle of all. Those two days so close together mean something to me. They help me focus on the fact that just as Israel waited for a Messiah to come save them from the oppression they experienced, I have God-given things that will do the same for me. If you feel sad this time of year, let someone know. Reach out to someone. I’d be happy to help you navigate this. Reach out to your church leaders and ask for help. In turn, help one another.
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables