*Today’s blog was written by Junnelle Hogen. It is a re-post of an article she wrote for the Register-Guard on December 13, 2015.
Amid the ever-present Christmas revelry and excess, many people feel blue.
But a Northwest Christian University associate professor says she’s developed tips to help people navigate the holiday season without becoming too depressed.
Marilyn Montgomery said many people may struggle with heightened anxiety, stress and loneliness before and after Christmas.
“It’s common for people to go up and down,” Montgomery said. “It varies widely, especially for people who have lost someone over the holidays.”
From her experience counseling and teaching at the Eugene university’s clinical mental health counseling program, Montgomery compiled her top five tips for maintaining mental health throughout the season:
Give yourself the same advice you would give your best friend.
Today I thought I’d take a popular Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and adapt it’s message for you, brokenhearted, weary, disillusioned, disappointed, grieving parents. God has many gifts to help us on our journey with children whose behaviors and choices have ruined our dreams and dashed our hopes. May these revised words remind you of a few of those gifts.
On the First day of Christmas our True God gave to us a Savior who is Jesus Christ the Lord.
On the Second day of Christmas our True God gave to us understanding friends.
Can you remember when a special event was ruined for you because of something bad that happened? Maybe it was your birthday. Maybe it was Christmas.
I remember when this happened to me on Thanksgiving Day in 1997. We were living in Illinois. The morning was beautiful – sunny and cold. I was up early to prepare our family’s special breakfast before we watched the Macy’s Christmas parade. I looked forward to it all year-long. The house was full of cheerful anticipation as pleasing aromas drifted in through the house.
Suddenly the phone rang around 8 am. My world was about to come crashing down.
“Hello?” I answered, expecting to hear the voice of one of our parents wishing us a happy day, but it was rather early for them to call.
“Dena . . . honey,” I heard my dad’s quivering voice, full of worrisome emotion, on the other end of the hard, plastic receiver. My stomach sank. Something’s wrong.
My mom was doing much better after an eight month-long illness. She was finally going home today. I couldn’t wait to talk with her for the first time in months. What a wonderful day it would be.
“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but I just got a call from the nursing facility and it’s about your mom . . . honey, she passed away early this morning while they were helping her get dressed.” Nooooo!!!!
Thanksgiving has never been quite the same. Her visitation was on my birthday a few days later. I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Thanksgiving. My birthday. Christmas. Who cares. I didn’t.
Have you had a similar experience with one of your children? You’ve been profoundly hurt, wounded, rejected, shocked, disappointed, grief-stricken. You could care less about the holidays. There will be no Norman Rockwell Christmas for you.