Post Christmas Blues?
[Note: sometime in the next week or two, this blog and patrickmead.blogspot.com will be moving to patrickmead.net, a new site run by theobloggers]
So, the papers are in the trash, half the gifts are broken or being returned, and the leftovers are piling up in the fridge. Welcome to "Christmas: the day after." In the UK (that's 'United Kingdom, not 'University of Kentucky'), this is Boxing Day. It gets that name because.... well, I'm not sure, but it's still a holiday and that counts, bucko.
A lot of people feel letdown about now. The perfect holiday they wanted didn't come to pass, or they had a good day but now the real world is pressing in on them, demanding their presence at the office, reminding them that the tree and lights will need to come down soon, and that summer is a long, long time away.
When I was a boy my father felt that Christmas was an evil pagan, Catholic plot. Even to this day he preaches against it. I tried to talk to him a few times about it, but that didn't go well. If people sent us Christmas cards, they were thrown in the trash or returned to sender. If someone from the church or my school gave me a present, it had to be given back with a sermonette on why Christmas was evil. I adored the lights, trees, tinsel, and songs but felt like I was making God sad by doing so. I can remember sneaking a few minutes of TV, watching "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" or bits of the Andy Williams family Christmas special. I wanted to live in those stories. I wanted to be adopted by the Williams.
For those of you who spent Christmas alone, for those who are sad and depressed today, and for those who mourn how poorly your family gets along with each other, let me say "let not your heart be troubled." Take some steps to get out of the funk you find yourself in. Turn the lights on -- Christmas lights, sure, but especially the house lights (remember the posts on Seasonal Affective Disorder of a couple of months ago?). Eat well, take a multi-vitamin, and find time for a few minutes of walking and a few minutes of fun every day -- even, especially, silly fun. Moderate your intake of junk food and junk media. Go ahead and enjoy silly TV and songs, but lay off the dark, downer stuff. And remember -- media isn't real.
Not even Andy Williams' Family Special. When I was between six to ten I had a terrible crush on Andy's wife Claudine Longet. She was a French beauty and, to my preadolescent eyes, what a woman should be. But she was unhappy. How could she be unhappy??? She had Christmas and she got to cavort around a series of fun sets with fake snow, Christmas songs, and smiling kids! Her acting career was doing okay ("Hogan's Heroes", "Twelve O'Clock High") and her LPs were selling, if slowly, but it seemed that she just didn't like the Williams family as much as I did. She left. The next thing the world heard from her was when she accidentally shot and killed her lover. This was quite a shock -- how could this perfect family have problems?
Enter the Book of Ecclesiastes. All things are universal -- including joy, despair, loneliness and laughter. When we experience these things we must not assume that we are alone, that we are singled out by God for punishment, or that God has chosen to ignore us.
No, we are merely on another part of our long journey. Allow the tentpegs to pop up and move along, move to the next season, the next holiday, the next project. Know that the good and bad we go through is common to everyone, even the highly coiffed and made up celebrities we secretly wish we were. Sometimes I smile when I hear someone breathlessly going on about the latest celebrity marriage, divorce, or outburst. I don't think any Hollywood star would like my life, but when I compare it to theirs... no trade. I'm keeping this one.
Remembering that helps get you through these post-Christmas days. Maybe, just maybe, your life isn't that hard after all.