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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas--Or Maybe Not.

I love Christmastime. Some people don't.
Usually there's a reason behind it. It might because they have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but the cause might go deeper. SAD can be treated by doses of light and activity--I know that's a gross over-simplification. Other depressions, caused by a death of a loved one during the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years holidays, is perhaps more difficult to deal with.
My Dad died on Christmas Day. He had emphysema, lung disease, and anything else that can affect the lungs. My Mom, my daughter, my 2-year-old granddaughter, and I drove the 60 miles to the hospital right after we opened presents in the morning, leaving my friend Kim in charge of the 1-year-old grandson and dinner. Dad had been in the hospital for a few days, and at around 3 pm, he breathed his last.
Probably what saved us was having to keep Christmas for the kids. Yes, we cried through planning the funeral, arriving relatives and friends, feeding everyone. But one thing we all agreed on--Dad would probably come back and haunt us if we let his death spoil all our future Christmases.
Dad loved Christmas. I didn't notice it so much when I was young, probably because I was so focused on opening my presents, but when I became a parent, I noticed--my Dad loved watching the kids. Often he totally forgot to open his own gifts, just sat there with this happy grin on his face, his eyes twinkling, as the kids opened their presents.
It's a choice. I can let the memory of Dad dying on Christmas Day overwhelm me, or I can let the memories of his happy grin push the sad memories back. In honor of Dad, the happy grin memories win.
Please don't get me wrong--everyone goes through a time of grief--varying lengths and depths of grief for various people. Grief is natural and healthy, even for strong, resilient people.
Eventually, though, you have to be honest with yourself and God. Do you really want to be shed of the sadness? I can choose to have people feeling sorry for me, or I can choose let God heal my heart. You need to be willing to let God do His thing--He won't make you stop the pattern of holiday blues. It's a choice. Which do I want? Which do you want? His healing could be His gift to you, if you choose to accept it.
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