As long as I can remember Christmas has always been my favorite part of the year. The countdowns and candlelit services and waiting with ears strained for the sound of sleigh bells vividly return to me as I think about the past holiday seasons. And for as long as I can remember that eager excitement Christmas held, I also remember the enormous let down that sank into my heart as I climbed into bed Christmas night. When I was little I equated this feeling with not getting the right presents. But even now, as the importance of gifts has decreased, I can still feel that heavy weight of disappointment. Post-Christmas blues hit hard, whether your six or twenty-six.
We’re getting into January now, the trees are being dragged to the dump, the lights wound up for next year, the goodbyes said to family. And the post-Christmas blues is also accompanied with the January blues. January 18th is officially the most depressing day of the year, as all the holiday cheer is well in the past, New Years resolutions begin to fade, and the winter days are stretching endlessly before us. Just last month we were all singing about the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Now we’re moping our way through the most miserable time of the year.
So how do we fight these feelings of sadness and depression? How do we push our way through all this bleak winter gloom? How do we keep the post-Christmas blues from robbing of us of joy?
I guess there are a lot of ways to get through. More exercise. Healthy food. Cozying up on the couch with a good book. Staying busy and powering on. Tropical vacations.
But there’s one thing I’ve found that gets me through the darkest parts of the year.
I’ve had my journal open wide these past weeks. I didn’t stop naming my blessings at Thanksgiving. Every day, every hour, I’m looking for new things to be thankful for, for more opportunities to be grateful. And every time I write another one down, every time I add a number to my list of gifts, I remember the one who has lavished all this down upon me. The one whose coming we celebrated at Christmas and whose death and resurrection we’ll remember at Easter. The one who came for us in that manger at Bethlehem and promises to stay with us through the January-blues and the February slumps and the aching for spring, and for every day of our lives.
With each word of thanks I remember our Gracious Father, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – will he not also graciously give us all things?
We’ll get through this seasonal affective disorder one way or another. We’ll get to spring and then summer, and Christmas will come again. But I don’t want to merely get by. I want to live, fully, abundantly, and gratefully. Praising our good and loving God each morning for another sunrise, another morning of faithfulness, and another day ahead overflowing with grace and bounty.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.