Every December I have the same experience. I spend a great deal of time talking to people in pain. In this time when people have hopes and expectations for joy and peace and harmony many struggle to just get through the month. My heart goes out to them - they come to the season with a bundle of baggage and pain that has accumulated over many years and December is often no fun at all.
Years ago, Country singer, Merle Haggard coined the line to describe their feelings: "If we make it through December...". Haggard had a way with a sad song and that old tune was certainly sad - many people can connect with that feeling.
One thing that can help is to step back and have reasonable expectations for the Christmas and Holiday season. If you don't get along with your family all year long the expectation that the Christmas season is going to be some kind of miraculous time of peace and joy is unreasonable. Maybe the exchange of a nice Christmas card or a phone call makes more sense than trying to spend time together. Sometimes turning our focus away from ourselves to bless those less fortunate puts things in to proper perspective - reach out and serve someone and give some joy to someone else. You will be amazed at how much joy you will experience, as well.
Our emotions run high during this season but most of us will do much better to just keep our expectations realistic.
Remember that the newborn Jesus and his family were basically left out in the cold on the night Jesus was born - no room in inn. Jesus knows what it is like to be left out and excluded. Perhaps that is why he was always reaching out to those who were excluded and overlooked. Everyone is welcome in his presence - even those who have a tough time "making it through December."
Just thinking, Steve Yates