Friday, December 24, 2010

Not So Happy Holidays for Some

The scene: a few days before Christmas 1995, in a hallway in Anderson Memorial Medical Center.
Me: Dr. Turner, do you think Dad will be able to come home for Christmas?
Dr. Turner: David, (pause) your father won't be going home again.

With those words, my heart sank. My dad died shortly thereafter, a few days after Christmas. It took me years to make peace with Christmas. A year later, Christmas 1996, I was sitting in the dining room at the farm house where I lived. The house was decorated for Christmas. For some reason I didn't really think about at the time, I stood up, walked into the living room, grabbed the Christmas tree we'd cut from the farm, and chunked it out the front door. I then proceeded to tear down all the other decorations.

Grief. Anger. Depression. Those were the feelings driving me at the time. For many of the people you and I know — even those in our local churches — those feelings seem to be magnified at this time of year, for a whole host of reasons.

Amidst our celebrations tomorrow, let's remember that for some, for some we know, the holidays aren't happy. I'm not sure what we can directly do for them, even being aware, but there may be something. A word. A kindness. Surely a prayer.

As we remember the scandal of the Incarnation, let's also remember its power: power to heal, power to move us to compassion.

1 comment:

Robin said...

We can make space for all those feelings of loss, and we can let people know that their expressions of pain and sadness are as welcome in our congregations as are their expressions of joy and celebration. I've just written a little about our Blue Christmas service, one of at least seven in our immediate geographical vicinity in the two weeks before Christmas. It would seem that there is a need.

We can also try hard to listen intently, and not to shut people down with responses like "But it's been so long!" or "But you have so much to be grateful for!" We can make space for them to express the truth of their lives. One woman, brought to our service by a friend who is a member of our church, could barely whisper the word "suicide" -- and it's been several years since her child died. Who has been hearing her?

That's some of what we can do.