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Bah, humbug!

IsmiLiora

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Does anyone else here get really grumpy/depressed around Christmas?

As I get older, I always feel like Christmas is so empty. My family is very culturally Catholic, and they would make a big deal out of going to church that one day of the year (not just limited to the Catholics, I know that! ;) ), eating dinner, and then opening elaborate, expensive presents at midnight. Now it is also a contest to see who can get drunk the earliest.

Several years ago they started a Secret Santa....with a high minimum! My cousins also drafted very specific, long lists of what they wanted and some of them would get angry if you strayed from the list. After the first year, I dropped out of this ridiculous practice and was seen as a party pooper, for lack of a better term.

I hated Christmas when I was younger and I would see all of this. I would always wonder what the point was. I also know this is judgmental, but I couldn't stand how my relatives celebrated the holiday. One year I even hunkered down in a room with my Bible and cried. Definitely not a fun way to spend the night, but I was tired of feeling so empty when everyone was supposedly so "happy."

Even though I have my "own family" now, and we can have Christmas on our own terms, I still feel very sad around this time of year -- sad about bad relationships with loved ones (AND we are still exchanging presents -- what an empty gesture! :-/ ), sad about friends who cannot afford a "good Christmas" and feel pressured to spend a lot of money, sad about those who are alone, sad that people are still ill and dying at this time of year, etc. etc.

Does anyone else get like this at this time of year? I don't know if it's the SAD or just my overwhelming depression about our society, consumerism, and what should be one of the, if not the, greatest holy days of the year.

I know, I am such a Scrooge! Or Grinch. Take your pick.
 

Achronos

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The pressure bit on spending alot of money has certaintly rung true for me this year.

I've been extremely sad this season, to the point where I am over the edge. Can't wait for sunshine in the next few months...
 

LBK

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Ismi, you're doing OK.

One of the great benefits (though it might not seem that way at first) of being in a small Orthodox circle is that there are fewer reasons to go with all the ridiculous extraneous hoopla that goes with the "Christmas season". For a generation or more, I've detested any form of shopping after December begins. The rabble, the noise and the ghastly renditions of even good and proper Christmas carols in every shopping mall just drive me nuts. I simply shop for food necessities, and for simple gifts for the handful of nearest-and-dearest. Luckily, within those in my circle who are Orthodox, Christmas is far more low-key than Easter (thank God!), which is the historical norm in cultures where Orthodoxy is the dominant faith. That suits me just fine.
 

vamrat

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Screw this whole bloody season.  The only time have been happy this December has been my weekly drinking session on Sundays after Church.
 

Schultz

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I have a touch of the S.A.D. and always take at least the entire month of December to get adjusted to the time change and the fact that it's dark when I leave work. 

I learned a long time ago to ignore the rest of the seasonal hoopla, but I do usually spend most of December in quite a funk.  Haven't had a fight with the wife, yet, and I don't see it coming up as we both have had the presence of mind to stop ourselves from escalating things when and if they get a little hairy (she has a rough time in winter, too). 
 

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I had good Christmases when I was younger.  The Mrs. sometimes did not, so I do well around Christmas time, but I also am learning to deal with the arrows that got thrown the Mrs's way.  Remember your near-last statement.  You have your only family now.  Time to have Christmas on your terms.
 

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I think Christmas means different things for different people and it is largely dependent on views of what love, family, and Christianity are.  The world is increasingly disconnected from God and cannot rightly understand what those above things are/mean.  I can't judge those who live in ignorance, but like you it leaves me feeling very sad.  My own family isn't terribly materialistic, but has a very superficial understanding of things which always leaves me feeling disconnected from them and them from me.  I remember one Christmas pondering the incarnation of Our Lord out loud and it being completely lost on my family. It wasn't that they didn't believe in God, but they couldn't appreciate it for a variety of reasons, not all of which I could attribute personal fault to. I love Christmas though.  I may not be able to enjoy it with my family at the level I'd like to, but there is still much that I find joy in and am grateful for those small things.
 

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I do not remember very many happy Christmases as a child either.  But, I've had my own family for 26 years and we've made our own traditions.  One of the main things we did was de-emphasize presents.  I also think that what Ioannis said is true.  When you grow up in a family culture where the true meaning of Christmas is all but lost its very depressing.  But, you can change that with your own family.  When our kids were younger we didn't belong to a tradition that celebrated Advent or had services on Christmas day.  I'm so glad that we have that now.  It really is the whole point of all this anyway.  We're not perfect at observing Advent but I figure that every little bit helps.

That said, this season is very stressful for me, and thus, also depressing.  This year has been the worst in a long, long time, but there are other extenuating circumstances adding to the problem 
 

biro

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I have had this issue in the past, though it's not as bad as it used to be. I would recommend taking a walk outside at least once every day. If it's not possible due to weather, keep all the lights on inside, and watch a funny movie or something like a concert. Stuff that'll keep your spirits up.

:angel:
 

katherineofdixie

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This is probably a sign of either an essentially frivolous nature, or a serious personality disorder, but I love Christmas! Always have.
I love to decorate, bake (oddly enough for a strict non-cook the rest of the year), make/give presents and the whole shebang.
I'm not depressed by this time of year or annoyed and superior to the rest of the ignorant rabble who can't understand the true meaning of Christmas. I don't even mind selfish materialistic relatives. Since most of my family have passed on, I would love to have even more, even if they are quarrelsome and ungrateful.
It doesn't depress me to think of how other stupid and selfish people are messing up the true meaning of the season. I think it's a pure-t 100% miracle that people, who for the rest of the year are completely selfish and self-involved, can be inspired, or otherwise moved for a little while to think about what would please or help others. Just because I don't like the hideous pale blue beret my goddaughter knitted for me doesn't mean that I'm not absolutely thrilled that she cared enough to remember me at Christmas.

 
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katherineofdixie said:
This is probably a sign of either an essentially frivolous nature, or a serious personality disorder, but I love Christmas! Always have.
I love to decorate, bake (oddly enough for a strict non-cook the rest of the year), make/give presents and the whole shebang.
I'm not depressed by this time of year or annoyed and superior to the rest of the ignorant rabble who can't understand the true meaning of Christmas. I don't even mind selfish materialistic relatives. Since most of my family have passed on, I would love to have even more, even if they are quarrelsome and ungrateful.
It doesn't depress me to think of how other stupid and selfish people are messing up the true meaning of the season. I think it's a pure-t 100% miracle that people, who for the rest of the year are completely selfish and self-involved, can be inspired, or otherwise moved for a little while to think about what would please or help others. Just because I don't like the hideous pale blue beret my goddaughter knitted for me doesn't mean that I'm not absolutely thrilled that she cared enough to remember me at Christmas.
I'm 110% with you katherineofdixie!

However, I do understand that this time of year is difficult for many, particularly with the economy being the way it has been.

I would encourage those on this forum that are disgruntled by the commercialism that the holiday can bring to turn off the music played by Top 40 radio and to listen to the Advent music of the Church. (Whether it be through CD's or Ancient Faith Radio.)  I've also found that in listening to the "Classical Christmas" station on Pandora, there is a lot more "What Child is this?" and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and less "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer."

Listening to hymns of Christmas (whether they be Eastern or Western) helps me remember what the feast IS about, and what it ISN'T about.

Friends and family being human, will never live up to the expectations we set for them. One of the reasons many people get depressed around this time of year is because we have this "Courier and Ives"/"Saturday Evening Post" image of Christmas in our heads, and our relatives don't live up to that. Yes, it would be nice if every member of all our families donated all of the money they spent on gifts to charity, and used the time they would normally spend shopping in vigil at Church.

But that's not going to happen.

God loves us for who we are, flaws and all. Shouldn't we do the same for our family members?
 

IsmiLiora

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Since when does seasonal depression or sadness at the state of the world mean that we don't love our family members/loved ones?

Don't get me wrong. I can fully take being called judgmental, which I know I am in this circumstance. But I think you are hinting at something more here, and that's unfair.

I do love them and I really wish that the season wasn't just another reason to party and get drunk and try to compete for who has the most presents. I generally don't like being in that environment, anyway.
 

PrincessMommy

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IsmiLiora said:
Since when does seasonal depression or sadness at the state of the world mean that we don't love our family members/loved ones?

Don't get me wrong. I can fully take being called judgmental, which I know I am in this circumstance. But I think you are hinting at something more here, and that's unfair.

I do love them and I really wish that the season wasn't just another reason to party and get drunk and try to compete for who has the most presents. I generally don't like being in that environment, anyway.
I wish there was a hug smilie because I totally get what you're saying.
 

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I would be thankful for any kind of Christmas, at this point. Not to turn this into a pity party of one or anything (though that is probably what this is going to come off as; apologies in advance), but there are worse things than spending Christmas with materialistic, alcohol-soaked relatives. I know because I'm living them right now, or will be in ten days time when I fly home to visit family in California. Last year my (Roman Catholic) grandmother died, and she was the only one who ever went through the trouble to make sure that we actually got together as a family, upheld at least a minimum of Christmas tradition (reading the story of the Nativity out of those little "Golden Books" meant for five or six year olds [very merry-producing coming out of my gruff, constantly irritated uncle], singing carols, etc). In the time since she has passed, that whole part of our family gatherings has just sort of gone away, and to top it off my own father has joined an explicitly anti-Christian cult, so there will be nothing even slightly resembling Christmas in his house, either, since his new religion doesn't believe in Jesus (yet they believe that some guy from the Philippines who died in 1965 or thereabouts is, in himself, the literal fulfillment of Biblical prophecy; I've yet to figure that one out). He actually asked me on the phone "What are we going to do about Christmas this year, because y'know, my religion doesn't believe in any of that stuff", and I was so annoyed that he would bring it up in such a flippant manner (he knows I'm exploring Orthodoxy) that I told him "You can believe in whatever you want; I'M having myself a damn Christmas whether you like it or not." (Lord, forgive me.  :-[) I actually tried to get out of coming home for Christmas, as I do not like missing what should rightfully be my first Coptic Christmas to sit in a home with nothing of the spirit in it (except perhaps a spirit of evil, thanks to this group that brainwashed my father). Unfortunately, but rightly, my priest told me that it is absolutely unacceptable that I should refuse to visit my father, even though he is being seduced by the demons. That's really all the more reason that I should have to go, not only because he is my father and I am to honor him, but because if I go there, and pray for him, and pray the Agpeya and do the other stuff I should be doing, then it is a witness of a certain kind, even if I do not see the effects while I am there.

I haaaaate the fact that abouna is right about this, but he clearly is. I just have to try to not let it ruin my one-person Christmas (haha), and, as a friend from church advised me, "resist the urge to punch him in the face" (Copts are really, really serious about this God thing; go figure. :)).

All that was written by way of saying that I can definitely relate to your depression/grumpiness around Christmas, Mrs. Ismi, though my own comes from a different place. (Okay, and also to vent a little bit.) I wish I had some good advice or support to offer beyond trying to apply what the Orthodox people I know have told me to do in my own situation to your situation: Even as your family do not honor God or your beliefs or perhaps much of anything, honor them. And if they make you hate Christmas because of commercialism and partying, try to show them that you love Christmas for entirely different reasons. After all, there is much to be joyful about, regardless of our particular situations. Rejoice, for I have overcome the world... Through Christ we may do the same, so His birth is indeed a time of great celebration.

 

vamrat

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IsmiLiora said:
Since when does seasonal depression or sadness at the state of the world mean that we don't love our family members/loved ones?

Don't get me wrong. I can fully take being called judgmental, which I know I am in this circumstance. But I think you are hinting at something more here, and that's unfair.

I do love them and I really wish that the season wasn't just another reason to party and get drunk and try to compete for who has the most presents. I generally don't like being in that environment, anyway.
Indeed.  Sometimes family is the only reason we aren't even worse off.
 
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IsmiLiora said:
Since when does seasonal depression or sadness at the state of the world mean that we don't love our family members/loved ones?

Don't get me wrong. I can fully take being called judgmental, which I know I am in this circumstance. But I think you are hinting at something more here, and that's unfair.

I do love them and I really wish that the season wasn't just another reason to party and get drunk and try to compete for who has the most presents. I generally don't like being in that environment, anyway.
Forgive me  if you thought I was implying that you don't love your family.

What I mean is that part of loving them is accepting them for who they are, materialistic Christmas, alcohol, and all.

Also, are they stopping you from going to Liturgy with your husband Christmas morning and having your own private celebration with your husband prior to joining them in theirs?
 

katherineofdixie

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dzheremi said:
And if they make you hate Christmas because of commercialism and partying, try to show them that you love Christmas for entirely different reasons. After all, there is much to be joyful about, regardless of our particular situations. Rejoice, for I have overcome the world... Through Christ we may do the same, so His birth is indeed a time of great celebration.
Excellent point!
 

Gebre Menfes Kidus

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I want to wish all my dear brothers and sister on OC.net a blessed and joyous Fast of the Nativity, and a peaceful and merry Christmas. As with all Fasts and holy seasons, the devil is busy stirring up our sins and passions and endeavoring to rob us of the joy we have in Christ. Let us strive to love one another and strive to love even our enemies. And let us endeavor to be witnesses of kindness and mercy to our families.

Pray for me, a sinner.


Selam
 

katherineofdixie

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HandmaidenofGod said:
IsmiLiora said:
Since when does seasonal depression or sadness at the state of the world mean that we don't love our family members/loved ones?

Don't get me wrong. I can fully take being called judgmental, which I know I am in this circumstance. But I think you are hinting at something more here, and that's unfair.

I do love them and I really wish that the season wasn't just another reason to party and get drunk and try to compete for who has the most presents. I generally don't like being in that environment, anyway.
Forgive me  if you thought I was implying that you don't love your family.

What I mean is that part of loving them is accepting them for who they are, materialistic Christmas, alcohol, and all.

Also, are they stopping you from going to Liturgy with your husband Christmas morning and having your own private celebration with your husband prior to joining them in theirs?
And I also am not criticizing people who are affected by SAD or suggesting that people with (shall we say?) "difficult" relatives don't love them. Christmas can be hard - especially when you have lost loved ones. I know the first Christmas after we lost my dear brother (he was not yet 30) was unbearable.
But oftentimes, if we are not suffering from a clinical depression, or SAD, we can choose how to celebrate the joy of the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Maybe that is part of our struggle as Christians to focus on the joy and accept our more challenging relatives and circumstances.
 

katherineofdixie

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I just read this:“O Lord, give us leave this day to celebrate Your true birthday, of which our annual festival puts us in mind. This day is like Yourself: it is the friend of man. Year by year it returns throughout the centuries, growing old with the aged, renewing itself with the newborn child. Year by year it comes to us, passes, and then returns, full of the old magic.” —St. Ephrem the Syrian

And this, written by a friend of mine whose precious little girl died of cancer last year:
"My struggles with grief are harder to bear when I let myself fall into the might have/ should have beens instead of finding gratefulness for what was and what is. Holidays like Christmas can intensify those struggles. Many people feel more grief when they dwell on the bitter contrast between the Christmas of their Expectations and the Christmas of their Reality. Those false expectations of life in this world can keep us from experiencing real joy while we’re here.
Advent, with its quiet season of fasting and prayer, gives me the daily reminder I need that Christmas is coming, the real Christmas that no Grinchy family misunderstandings, financial burdens, or even deaths of loved ones can stop.  Christmas is a celebration of a reality that nothing on Earth can prevent. Christmas is a little like Jesus leaving His real world to come to our Matrix, so that  someday we can go home with Him.
If I can keep my heart full of hope, faith and wisdom, then maybe I can celebrate the holidays with real joy. This life, although it is our real experience for now, is not the real life that we were created for. The losses that we suffer, the separations that break our hearts on holidays more than any other time, all of these things are part of this shadow world and they will pass. Someday, joy will come in their place:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death .Neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Rev. 21:4"
The rest at:
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maryevelynking
 
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