woman in winter setting with lantern

The New Blue Christmas

woman in winter setting with lantern
credit: Debbie EM from Pixabay

Dark, gray days slip into the blackest nights. Long nights. Hours stretch on. I only want to slip into flannel pajamas and go to bed soon after dinnertime, around 6PM!. The only thing saving me from becoming a hermit or hibernating bear these winter evenings is the need to check up on my horses at night (bed check!).

Winter is not my best time of year. And tonight is Midwinter—the northern hemisphere’s Winter Solstice. A time when the earth’s poles reach maximum tilt away from the sun. It is also the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun and the official beginning of the winter season. That gives me hope. It has been a grey day–one of many in this grey Mid Atlantic winter we are having.

Ancient peoples around the world had various traditions and created impressive monuments to mark the winter solstice (see Stonehenge live sunrise on YouTube), but for many it is a difficult time.

Those who are sensitive to the lack of sunlight (SEASONAL affective disorder –  SAD) or have experienced a recent loss or a loss around this time of year find it especially hard to be cheerful during the holiday season. Others are triggered by the pressure to act the part. You are supposed to be in the loving embrace of family (what if you have no family or they are extremely difficult), you are supposed to be out having fun at parties and other gatherings (what if you are sick or isolated for other reasons), you are supposed to be MERRY, but what if you just don’t feel like it? Is there something wrong with you?

In a word, NO! The real life that we live is not anything like a Hallmark movie, nor do our homes and family gathering look like a Currier and Ives Christmas card. Recognizing this fact, many Christian denominations hold a special Winter Solstice or Blue Christmas service to help those suffering from grief or otherwise struggling this time of year. Often the opening prayer is as follows:

 Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you tonight to acknowledge the “blue feelings” we are having at this Christmas time. Sometimes we even feel guilty because we have these feelings. The world tells us it is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration and yet it can be some of the darkest times for us.

Life is messy but we do our best to bring comfort and joy to others.

Including yourself. Comfort and joy. That does not mean happiness, gaiety, or all your dreams coming true. It means a certain sacred peace. Give yourself a break this Winter Solstice/ Holiday Season. Don’t feel guilty if you are not in the mood or want to stay home and read a book. Don’t beat yourself up over it or try to “snap out of it.” It’s okay. EMBRACE THE SAD AND DON’T FEEL BAD.

woman blowing snow
Thanks for reading!
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