Saturday, December 17, 2011

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

So I've been trying to get this blog written for two weeks now.  I keep writing, then saving, then coming back to edit, then saving again - rinse and repeat.

I managed to have a whole Sunday off two weekends ago. It's not often that my schedule allows me to make it to church on Sunday mornings. But when the opportunity arises, I usually like to go - especially on the weekends that I have Emily home with me.

I haven't officially found a church "home" of my own here in Nashville, however, I do have a few churches that I go to on a semi-regular basis.

This past Sunday, I went to my in-law's church (The River).  The pastor's message was on the 3 Christmas Killers. Obviously, it really hit home because I felt compelled to share.

It's no secret that I've been in an uncharacteristically foul mood as of late. I can't quite put my finger on the reason(s) why though. It's not the typical Christmas chaos getting to me. It's definitely not a dislike of the holidays either. I actually do love the holidays. I LOVE Thanksgiving and I truly enjoy Christmas time - and I even voluntarily work in retail during the holidays thus subjecting myself to non-stop Christmas music!!!

So when, and more importantly how, did Christmas time become the most hectic time of the year when it is supposed to be the most peaceful time of the year?

We all get so wrapped up in the craziness of Christmas that we lose sight of the very reason for the season - which is Christ.

In today's society, Santa has replaced Jesus as the #1 Christmas character. Most children these days don't even know the story of Christmas. - And being a mom of a 6 year old myself, I wondered if Emily even understands the reason for Christmas.

Here is Pastor Barry's list of the Three Killers of Christmas:
 
1. STRESS.
 
      A. Finances.
           We worry about not having enough money to pay for Christmas. We stress over wanting to provide our families with the best Christmas ever. - I'm lucky that my child is easy to please when it comes to Christmas and it's also a HUGE comfort that she is blessed to have ALL of her dad's family plus Alan's family to spoil her rotten. - Seriously, this kid has about 5 different Christmas gift sessions.

      B. Time.

           We stress over not having enough time for shopping, wrapping gifts and the plethora of Christmas get-togethers. We wear ourselves out trying to coordinate multiple family schedules, rushing around from place to place on the days before Christmas, the day of Christmas and even the days after Christmas just to see everyone.
 
      C. Expectations.
           We worry about everything being perfect. - Finding the "PERFECT" gift. - Fixing the "PERFECT" Christmas dinner. - Being "PERFECT" for our families in hopes to please everyone.

 
2. LONELINESS
     Though I've always loved the holidays, for as long as I can remember, the holidays have always been a melancholy time for me.  - And even though I'm not "alone" this year - I find that am still plagued by feelings of utter loneliness a lot of the time. 

     This year, I first recognized my feelings of loneliness on Thanksgiving. We spent the morning having Thanksgiving lunch with my former in-laws. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to feel slightly awkward bringing my new husband to the ex-husband's family's house for the holidays, but thankfully everyone seemed to make room and adjust. - I still couldn't help but feel sad over it though.

     It's not a real secret that my former in-laws have been more of a family to me than my own - especially when it comes to their relationship with Emily, but the reality of it all comes down to the "one of these things is not like the other" concept. In the first time since my divorce from Emily's father, I suddenly felt strange about being there. - So I've began to pose the question to myself of how does one ostracize themselves from a family that has made you one of their own for so long? - And is it even necessary to do so?

     I'm sure in some ways, all together eliminating the headache of trying to coordinate an additional set of in-laws into the holiday visitation schedule is a blessing within itself (especially when my family gets thrown into the equation), but nevertheless, there's still an overwhelming wave of loneliness I feel when I'm surrounded by the perfectly "functional" families of my past and present in-laws. - Being in the midst of them, all at once, makes me painfully aware of how dysfunctional my family really is.  

     Now don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that no family is perfect and they all have a healthy amount of dysfunction within.  But I also know that those of you unfamiliar with my family history are saying to yourselves, "Sure, Sylvia, all families are dysfunctional. Yours can't be that bad." So allow me to say this: Trust me, you have no idea and I'd appreciate it if you kept all your patronizing comments to yourself, please and thank you.

     I haven't spoken to my mother in over a year. - I'm not even sure if she's aware that I got married this year.  - And what gets me is that she shows no desire to have a relationship with her granddaughter.  My siblings and I have virtually no relationship either.  We have never been a family to say "I love you" or "I miss you."  Affections throughout my family - verbal and physical - have always been few and far between.

     All in all, it would be nice to at least have the option to spend the holidays with my family...  but unfortunately that will never be the case.


3. DEPRESSION. 

      Statistically, suicides happen most around Christmas due to depression.

      Now I'm not one to even contemplate taking my own life as I am mentally well enough to see all the great things in my life that are worth living for. - My amazingly sweet and ridiculously smart daughter. - My super supportive, caring, kind and wonderfully patient husband. - My extended family of former & present in-laws. - My friends, co-workers and clients; all of whom support me (as well as my business) and continually keep me focused on the bigger picture.

     Despite all these things I have to be thankful for, I have always been one to struggle with bouts of depression.  For as long as I can remember from my adolescent years on into adulthood, I have been in some form of treatment - whether it be in therapy with a psychiatrist combined with an anit-depressant, or just therapy with a counselor without medication, or with just a medicine prescribed by my general practitioner.

     Depression has just been a thing that I'm able to recognize and deal with throughout different times in my life.  It never goes away, but the degrees of severity vary.  

     I would be lying if I said that the holidays don't contribute to my depressed feelings as of late.  I most definitely am experiencing the cliche "Holiday Blues."  But I truly feel in my heart that it's not for the "typical" reasons most people have.

    It's not finances or stress.  It's more just a general feeling of being overwhelmed.  Everything in my life requires work right now.

     My home is a work in progress.  There's no place to just relax comfortably because it's in a state of renovation.

     My days off, I work.  

     Even my "vacations" away from Nashville are for work.


- Anyhow, I'm not sharing this for pity party or anything like that.  - Instead, I'm sharing these things because I have allowed them to somehow rob me of my joy and peace. - And I'm sure several of you can relate in one way or another.  So many of us are struggling to find peace in a time of pure madness.

With that being said, I have found peace and comfort in this:

Christ came on Christmas day to take from us all the stress, all the lonliness and all the depression we experience.  He came to heal the brokenhearted and to be with us in our loneliest times.  He is the reason for this season and we should find comfort in that - not be stressed over the trival parts of Chrismas. 

Despite my personal struggles with loneliness and depression, I've been trying to not let the Christmas craziness get the best of me - and when working in the retail world durning the holidays, that's easier said than done...  but when those waves of stress, loneliness and depression wash over me, I remind myself that Jesus is the reason for the season.  He can & will heal my brokenness, fill the emotional voids I struggle with on a daily basis and provide for me and my family. - And that is something amazing to be happy about.