Sunday, December 2, 2007
The Most Terrible Time of the Year
These are the days when people are humming little tunes such as, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." while they trim a pine tree with lights, glittery balls, homemade decorations, angels and stars. Manger scenes are carefully put upon the mantle while hot cocoa is warming on the stovetop and children listen to Christmas stories in their jammies. Fond memories warm our hearts and children's laughter brighten our days.
But, for many, these are not the most wonderful days of the year - this is the most terrible month of the year. I have thought about these people recently because many of them are close to my heart.
Mentally Ill and Homeless : When I lived in Chicago, I met mentally ill homeless people on a regular basis and it was a challenge for me to know how to deal with these people. They were needy and in a terrible spot, but I was unsure of how to help someone whose needs were so desperate. Have you noticed that mental illness frightens most of us? We shy away from these people out of fear but many of them need to know that someone cares. They are trapped by the tricks their minds play on them. They often feel hopeless because of their lack of control over emotions and thoughts.
Widows: A recent death in the family can make the holiday memories turn painful instead of joyful and can cause the grieving to dread this time of the year. This is a season of family and togetherness which heightens the pain of being alone.
Single Missionaries: I remember my missionary teammates gathering around at Christmas like a surrogate family, but it was still painful to be so far away from home. As much as missionaries love their jobs and the country they live in, Christmas often brings on an onslaught of homesickness.
The Incarcerated: In all honesty, I would not have thought of the troubles for those in prison before now. They have committed a crime and deserve to reap the consequences. But, the consequences of being separated from family this time of the year can be excruciating. I watch a baby whose dad is in prison and though he is too young to understand it now, there will come a day when this situation will be difficult for this sweet boy. I have a new appreciation for the humanity of prisoners and their need for love and care this time of year.
People in Financial Stress: During the season of gift giving and party going, a family that can barely make ends meet feels the pressures mounting during Christmas. If the debt load is already overwhelming, how will they buy presents for the kids? Many of these folks will not share their personal misery, but this time of the year can be terrible for them.
The Depressed: When getting out of bed seems like climbing a rock wall, trying to keep up with the hectic pace of Christmas is impossible for the depressed. The days are shorter and darker only adding to the depressed mood and the additional pressures of the season can cause a depressed person to simply hide away until December has past. These are the ones who will not admit that they need a friend, and yet they are secretly hoping someone will give them a hug.
Maybe we should keep our eyes open for these people this season who might not think all this Christmas flurry is so wonderful. What can we do to lighten their load and brighten their days?