The Christmas season remains an uncomfortable time of year for me. I’m used to going into a deep depression the second December starts. But something’s different this year. For the first time in a long time, I’m not dreading it.
Life isn’t perfect. It never will be. Not supposed to be. But I’m finally starting to move past the idea that Christmas is supposed to always be perfect, sparkling and free of pain and strife. Given my tendency to think in absolutes, it used to be that if I had an argument with someone or work was stressful that it was all the fault of the season.
Not helping was the chemical imbalance that set in when the days got shorter. A dark sky for me is usually a dark mood.
What’s different is that I’m looking at a lot of painful, hard work in the rear-view mirror. Years of intense therapy, the decision to bring my addictions to heel, letting God in and going on medication. In the last couple of years, all that toil has been starting to pay off and I’ve felt joys I could never feel before.
In the last year, I’ve also fought back hard against the daylight problem. I went up 20 MG on the Prozac last winter, dropped back to the old dosage for summer and moved back up Aug. 1, when the days become noticeably shorter. I also started using a special lamp — sunshine in a box, as I call it — and that has diminished the extreme moods.
They still come and go, but they’re not nearly as intense as they used to be.
I think the biggest reason I’m not dreading Christmas this time is that my perspective has changed. I’m not craving a “Pleasantville” atmosphere where everyone kicks back and smiles all jolly. I’m not expecting things to be idyllic. I guess you can say I’ve lowered my expectations.
People are still going to fight. Cars will still break down. Loved ones will still die. That no longer means Christmas is destroyed.
A lot of this is based on my deepening Faith.
This time of year is about celebrating the birth of Christ. I love the glow of a lit Christmas tree as much as the next person. But I don’t care so much about all the gifting back and forth. It feels good to give, but I’ve realized the best thing I can give is my time for a friend in need or a family that’s always there for me.
If not for the sacrifice Jesus made for us sinners, I’d be in a world of shit. For all I know I still am. Purging evil behavior is a complicated task and I very much doubt I’ve mastered it.
Celebrating His birthday is wholly appropriate, regardless of the twists and turns life will inevitably take. Because that birth was our second chance — my second chance.
If you’re a skeptic and think I’m getting into crazy talk, I don’t care. I know I’m no better or worse than you, though in my delusional moments I like to think I am.
This is where my road has taken me, and I’m grateful for it.
And so, I think I can get up the courage to say these two words: