how to handle the holidays
By Leslie Payne
Every holiday season I hear a gloomy Christmas song that makes me giggle. Just one note of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” and I’m back in my senior year of college with two wonderful roommates. Whenever the song came on the radio, Cindy and I sang the octave jumping “Ew-Ew-ew-Oh-ohs” as we swung our hips backup-singer style. Sarah, with hairbrush in hand as her microphone, sang the lead. At the top of her lungs, Sarah and Elvis sang of blue snowflakes and memories. It was a miserably sad sound, primarily because Sarah couldn’t sing worth a darn. When the song ended, we’d collapse into giggles at the silliness of it all. Whoever heard of feeling blue at Christmas anyway?
Fast forward several decades and that thought is not as amusing. Too often, feeling blue during the holidays is reality. Among the three roommates, we’ve lost five parents, two siblings, several friends, too many aunts and uncles and all our grandparents. Often, grief increases during the holidays as advertisers insist this should be the happiest season of all. Not always so.My method of grief management was once “I’ll stay in bed until next year.” While it protected me from constant in-your-face holiday happiness, I ended up with a dreadful case of bed head. I needed a new plan.
Last year before Christmas, a much better option presented itself. Sarah and I met at a local church for a “Blue Christmas” celebration, which was a beautifully designed service that offered a safe place to pause, grieve and reflect. It gave us permission to acknowledge our grief, so later we could celebrate in traditional Christmas style. We both cried some during the service, and that was OK. My only complaint was she still looked so beautiful, while my tears left me with a splotchy complexion and a case of the hiccups. Yet the evening was a tremendous comfort in the midst of the holiday rush.
Over the years, after trying a few different approaches, I’ve picked up some strategies to help deal with grief during the holidays.
Leslie, a longtime resident of Annapolis, can be reached by visiting her website at www.livingwithpayne.blogspot.com
“HOPE FULL HOLIDAYS” seminars by Life Center at Hospice of the Chesapeake
To honor grief and memories, plus explore coping strategies for the holiday season.
In Anne Arundel County:
Registration required: 410 987-2129
“BLUE CHRISTMAS” worship service
College Parkway Baptist Church, 301 College Parkway, Arnold, MD
For more information: 410 647-5594
RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON GRIEF:
Don’t Take My Grief Away: What To Do When You Lose A Loved One by Doug W. Manning
How To Survive The Loss Of A Parent: A Guide For Adults by Lois F. Akner
A Tearful Celebration: Finding God in the Midst of Loss by James Means