I always seem to get a near fatal cold this time of year that lodges itself in sinus cavity like some hibernating bear, causing excruciating pain and a malaise that lasts well into the New Year.
Let’s be frank, it’s all in my head. And I am not talking about the infection. I am talking about the stress-induced depression. Call it a seasonal syndrome. Call it Black Friday taken too literally. Who the fuck knows? I just know that I can’t wait for the first week of January even if that involves the bleak start of a long cold winter in New England.
I know this is suppose to be the season of joy but it has always been the season of pressure and unfulfilled expectations as far as I am concerned–a birthday just 10 days before Christmas growing up made it challenging as a kid. And managing my way through being a divorced dad made it challenging as an adult.
But this morning as I sat in church listening to a sermon on the first Sunday in advent, I wondered to myself if it was possible to shed my skin of seasonal depression and grab ahold of something much simpler than all the materialism run amuck? Can I make my living hell into something that filled my heart with something other than palpitations?
Just to give you a little context, my daughter will be home from her freshman year of college, my big son is 16 and his younger brother is 7 (prime Santa year). On December 16th I will be 48 years old. On December 28th my wife and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and I will be 16 years away from my last drink
We are headed to Florida to visit my in-laws for Christmas and to Vermont to ski with friends for New Years.
This is hardly a story of a homeless man looking for a cup of coffee on a heating grate surrounded by a cardboard box in midtown.
My life is good. Damn good. I just need to get my head out of my ass long enough to realize that. Maybe it’s just a matter of taking the pressure off myself to do and be something more than I already am.
A crazy thing has been happening recently. I’ve noticed that I am just a little more patient than I once was. I don’t lose my mind quite as quickly. The flashes of anger pass without my having to say anything.
Sitting in church the thought passed through my head that maybe the key to alleviating holiday depression isn’t doing more it’s doing a whole lot less. I always think that I have to give just the right gift, say just the right thing, and act just the right way. And I can’t possible do it without losing my soul. So I get pissed. And sad.
I was staring at this beautiful stained glass window and for an instant I felt that I was missing the point entirely. If the idea is that it’s a season of miracles, than forcing the issue will never work. If Christ was born to show all that are sins are forgiven than no amount of repenting and stretching and bitching is going to change anything. We are already all right. We are already saved. No need to shop for just the right holiday gift to prove it.
I don’t know of I can hold onto the conviction to be rather than do during the next 30 days but I am going to try like hell. And I welcome you to join me.
Let’s celebrate the beauty of life and our loved ones with no particular expectation of what that has to look like. It can be the stillness of a December night or the feeling of cuddling before a roaring fire.
I may still fall into my seasonal darkness but I am really going to try not to this year. I have so very much to be grateful for.
How about you?