As I sit down to write this article I, like many of you, find myself easing back into life as it existed before the arrival of the Advent and Christmas seasons. In the process of acclimating myself to my former existence, I find that I am lamenting over the seasons coming to a close. Do you find yourself in a similar place?
I have spent some time reflecting and reading why we may “get the blues” once the holidays are over. I recently read an article entitled “The Holidays Are Over; Why Am I So Blue?” by Linda Walter, LCSW, which captures the most common causes research has found to explain “the blues” phenomenon. Here are just some of the reasons given; the return to the mundane, missing the social opportunities to be with family and friends, getting back to a work routine, being physically exhausted and dealing with the dreariness of winter days. Do any of these ring true for you? Even though the reasons Linda outlines have been part of my experience over the years, there is something that is not mentioned that I see as valid and, in my mind, pretty significant.
I think a hint of sadness enters this post-holiday time not just because decorations are coming down or that the festivities are over, but also because we fear the disappearance of the changes we have witnessed within ourselves and others. We don’t want them to become a thing of the past, mere memories or things that will be put away with the Christmas decorations only to be taken out once the season rolls around next year. I believe you know the changes that I speak of.
During the holidays we seem to demonstrate virtues that are the very nature of the season we celebrate. For some reason, individuals allow themselves to be kinder, more compassionate, respond to the needs of others, let walls down, show love and offer forgiveness. These changes among people are palpable. I am confident that you know what I am talking about because you also have experienced these changes in some form with family, co-workers, neighbors or individuals who occupy your common spaces.
You have seen it! You have felt it! Yes, we are different people, but why? Well, I have a theory!
During the Advent and Christmas seasons, we become completely immersed in the incarnational event of 2,000 years ago and in all the infinite possibilities the birth of the Savior offers us in the here and now. As our senses are drenched in music we hear, scripture shared, cards received, and decorations adorning homes and churches, we are reminded that our world could be different – we could be different!
The words to this song play over and over in my head: “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” – it is as though during this holy season we take ownership of these words. We take it upon ourselves to make those possibilities of a life in Christ visible realities. We often hear it said that “people wish it could be Christmas all year long.” I believe this desire comes not from a frivolous place, but rather a genuine longing for the transformation experienced not to be short-lived.
As we step into a New Year, I suggest that we don’t go in search of some resolution that may be void of any true substance; instead, let us bring to the New Year what has already begun in us during a season of hope. Let us be that glimmer of Christmas spirit and proof that it can last all year long!