The Downside of Festive

It’s the holiday season, when festive feelings, love and joy reign supreme. But it’s also a time of great hardship and pain for some people.

My heart hurts for people to whom this season brings pain and sorrow. I can see how, in the face of all the cheerful greetings, the family get togethers, the gift giving, it can be a hard time for some people. People struggle with money, with loneliness, with mental illness, with feelings not entirely joyous, and what they see around them magnifies it.

I read yesterday about the woman who jumped, clutching her 2-year-old son, from a highway overpass onto the 401. As it turns out, the woman was struggling with depression and had been for some time. She hid it from her family, because she was embarassed. She didn’t take her meds because she was breastfeeding. And then, early in December, as the holiday season began to get into full swing, it all got to be too much for her to bear.

I used to work with a fellow who, while he was a jerk most of the time, would come to life each Christmas season and spearhead a toy drive for the local Christmas charities. He was relentless in campaigning, reminding, cajoling people into contributing to the toy drive, even if it was just a little bit. Although he never confirmed it to us, it became apparent that he was, throughout his messed up childhood, probably a recipient of these toy drives. He remembers lean, sad Christmases. So it was very important thing to him to do the toy drive each year.

For us, now that I have no job, this Christmas will be lean. But that is okay, because we are going home to visit family. It will be the first Christmas in a few years that we feel truly festive. But it will be tinged with sadness. We have no children to share the holidays with. I read my friend’s blog post about her child’s Christmas concert, and I realize all the things we will miss out on, joys we will never know. My heart mourns the children we won’t have. It’s not the same watching other people’s kids at Christmas, and it never will be.

It’s a hard season for many. I need to remember that when I am tempted to walk by the charity stands in the mall, or when I am tempted to spend beyond my means, or when I feel like being snappish when people annoy me in the grocery store. I need to remember that when I fuss over my hair or clothes for our upscale company Christmas dinner. I need to remember that when I put on a warm coat and a hat and gloves against the cold.

It’s not all festive for everyone, everywhere.

One thought on “The Downside of Festive

  1. I was thinking of that woman today as well. That whole family has been in my thoughts since you first told me about her.

    I’m glad you’ve posted this entry. It really is the kick in the ass I needed today. I was feeling sorry for myself this morning because listening to my mother and all the plans everyone has to do for others at Christmas made me feel like a horrible Scrooge. I cannot afford to do much more than little things for my kids, and I actually was starting to feel like that wasn’t enough. I needed to be reminded that we have so much more than we need.

    So, by the very nature of the fact that we are together, and healthy, and do have a tiny bit of pocket money we’re doing much better than most.

    I am so very blessed to have you as my friend.

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