“May God rest you MERRY gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay.”
“JOY to the world, the Lord is come ...”
Join in the chorus and sing.
“Oh come, all ye faithful, JOYFUL and TRIUMPHANT ...”
Many are not singing because they are depressed. Being depressed while all around in this season of MERRY CHRISTMAS all is jolly and bright is dispiriting.
For many, Christmas is a magic carpet that elevates the spirit. It is an intangible, like a fragrance. It is a pencil sharpener for our emotions which become keener and more sensitive as the season progresses. It is an uplifting season, but not for all.
Depression is like a neatly wrapped gift package in which it awaits to spring out and surprise us like a jack-in-the-box. Depression is the “common cold” of emotions.
One imprisoning trait of depression is victims often think they are the only ones depressed. This results in further personal devaluation. In reality they aren’t.
Annually, more than 8 million Americans go to a doctor to be treated for depression. Newsweek reports it has reached the epidemic stage. Clinicians even have a name of it: “Christmas neurosis.”
Some contributing factors can be controlled, while others can’t. Exhausting shopping or extensive partying are foremost causes. Foods high in sugar, red or yellow dye, and consumption of alcohol are principle contributors. These are controllable contributors.
Materialism is an expressway to depression. It is imperative to be mentally disciplined regarding budgeted spending. Accept the fact there is a limited budget regardless of how limited it is and take pride in living within it.
Don’t let promotions, advertisements and your competitive instincts force you into regrets. Lacking discipline in this area often results in a sense of failure over not exercising self-discipline.
Having heard it all of our lives, it is time to evidence we believe it: “It’s the thought that counts.” Don’t be remorseful over not having more to spend. You don’t have a person on your gift list who would want you to be joyless over your limits.
One of the biggest depressants results from separation from loved ones you long to be with. Melancholy is the big brother of depression.
Traveling, distance or death may have robbed you of the joy of being with loved ones. A compounding companion to these two factors is being with, but being emotionally estranged from people with whom you would like to share love. In advance of the holiday, do something gracious or share some friendly comments with those alienated.
Dwell on the positive. Dwell on the positive and pleasant. Enjoy reliving some of the joyous good time of Christmases past.
Be proactive. Try giving yourself away. Find some unsuspecting persons who needs what you have to offer and relate to them in love. That is a wonderful gift. If you have younger children, here is a fulfilling suggestion. Take them with you and drop in on some older friends for a short visit.
Involve yourself in some of the many spirited celebrations of Christmas. Most churches provide free inspiring gatherings. For the Christian community, the real meaning of Christmas is the celebration of God’s love being shown at its zenith. Even for those who do not share the faith of the believers, their celebration can provide a therapeutic experience.
For the faith community, it gives meaning to the expression: MERRY CHRISTMAS.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church.