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The Blues At Christmas

December 13
18:59 2019

The Blues At Christmas

By: Dr. Abigail Joseph

When we hear the word Christmas, for many we envision twinkling lights, Christmas trees, tinsels, ham, turkey, black cake, gifts, rumpopo, and the list of celebratory items goes on and on. It can be said that for many Christmas is a happy time, but also we must acknowledge that Christmas is also a time where we can feel overwhelmed with the packed month of activities. There are changes in sleep patterns, increased family conflicts and also increased financial strains. Because Christmas is a time of togetherness, it can make people more aware of their social circles and can trigger a feeling of loneliness or depression, especially if you are not in a relationship. Everyone around you may be dressing up to match their partners, may be seen hooking up at the staff banquet, or just observed with family members visiting from far.

I love Christmas. It is my most favorite time of year – yes I like it more than even my birthday. It is a time of giving, a time of sharing and a time to create memories. I recently bought a 10lb. boneless ham from Running W. Dad and I took a trip just for that. We do it because when my grandmother was alive she would buy what she called a pre-Christmas ham, one that we could slice every morning and eat as part of our Christmas breakfast. Every morning and evening we would eat ham until it was all done. I know what you must think – surely we couldn’t possibly finish a ham that size before Christmas. Well sorry to disappoint, but we ALWAYS DO! Eating is a big deal in my family, it is probably one of the reasons why we are “solid” people.

Anyways, back to the story. There are many things we do at Christmas time, because it brings good memories of the past. Facebook sent me a reminder photo – it was one of my grandmother and I around the table with empty plates. I don’t even have to guess what we were eating because I already know it was tamales. I proceeded to ask my mom if Grandma Rosa didn’t make tamales for sale on Christmas Eve. Sure enough my mother responded with a yes. I usually make “grandma’s tamales” for sale once a month throughout the year, because even though she passed, her recipe stayed and people just love the taste. Well, we will be making tamales as a tradition for Christmas too. You might not realize my grieving process, but in all honesty, Christmas is the time I miss my grams the most. I mean I miss her throughout the year, but because Christmas is a time where family is “supposed” to be together, and because my family is small, her absence is felt.

In an effort to fill the emptiness, I try to do the things she would do if she was here. I make sure I volunteer to put up the tree (don’t know why I said volunteer – I’m an only child, there is no other option). I make sure I help with the making of black cake, I remind dad of our trip to Running W for ham and I also make sure to make comments about how “if grams were here she would do….” and we would still feel as if though she was around.

The Christmas blues for those that are grieving is inevitable. Whether it is a recent loss or having lost a loved one years ago, the pain might not be the same but it is still real and it is present. It’s hard not to think about the absence of a loved one at Christmas time, especially when everyone else is unknowingly rubbing it all in your face. My hope for this Christmas is that we be a little mindful of others, not only in giving but also by being aware of their feelings. Christmas can be a lonely time for a mother who lost a child, for someone who lost a spouse, for someone who lost a mother. It’s a difficult time to deal with loss in general. It’s easy to be so caught up in the atmosphere of spending and celebrating that we overlook those that are grieving. This is quite ironic, considering the amount of “RIPs” that you have participated in posting on Facebook throughout this year. Yes indeed, Belize saw quite a number of deaths in 2019. Needless to say those wounds are still very fresh, even though we are approaching the end of the year.
If you are personally not feeling Christmas this year and just want to survive the season: Be honest with yourself and how you are feeling. If you try to hide them you might make things harder on yourself by overeating or overindulging in alcohol. Both of which do not have a great outcome.

If you feel overwhelmed and that you can only manage one thing, manage yourself. Self-care is VERY important. You might not want to mingle or you may prefer being alone. While it is not recommended to be alone at Christmas, taking time out to do things for yourself such as a pedicure, a trip to the hair salon or just taking time to finish reading that book or complete your daily exercise routine is still a good decision.
Push yourself to be active. I know you think I just said it was ok to be alone in the previous statement. I said it is ok to do “alone stuff.” Allowing yourself to be helpful can distract you from what you may be feeling and this can be good even if the feeling seems only temporary. Consider volunteering.

If you are not experiencing the Christmas Blues but know of someone who might be, make an effort to pick up the phone and call or send a text. It can make a big difference in the outcome of that person’s day. Maintaining good health at Christmas time does not only mean physical health by watching what we eat, but also being mindful of our mental health. Spread Christmas cheer but also make an impact on someone’s mental health today.

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