‘Tis The Season of Sadness
By DANNY MINTON
Christmastime has made its way to us even in the middle of a pandemic. You drive the streets and see lights glistening along the once dark lanes—lights more abundant than I’ve seen in a long while and much earlier than years past. Christmas sales call us to shop early with great deals for gifts to our family and friends.
Hallmark channel has spread Christmas cheer with non-stop movies since before Thanksgiving. We view families gathering together on a snowy evening, couples breaking up and then finding new love, children bright-eyed with laughter, giggles, and screams of joy on Christmas morning. Christmas is a joyous time of the year, Hallmark-style!
However, for some, this time of the year is not a season of joy but one of sadness. Every year I put up a white Christmas tree, one we bought in 2010. The tree is covered with whimsical ornaments. You’ll see Wizard of Oz, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Fisher-Price, the Grinch, and more hanging all around the tree. In all, the tree bears over one-hundred ornaments. It was Scottie’s tree, our son who passed away in 2014. He had Cerebral Palsy and loved the Christmas music and bright lights of the season.
Every year I put up that tree; a feeling of sadness enters my heart. Silent tears hover back as I hang the ornaments and push the buttons on the ones that play sounds. Putting up that tree brings back memories of one lost. Later we enjoy the tree for the season; however, next year, as it goes up, those feelings I know will return. The love for a lost one rises to the top. You get over the death of someone close, but the scars remain, and once in a while, something causes that scar to ache.
I sit here and think of all those who have lost loved ones in the past years. I have administered over one hundred funeral services over the years. I have seen the mourning over lost children, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and loved ones of all relations. To many, this time of year opens up those times of remembrance of the joys of Christmases past, embraced with the sadness of one no longer among us.
An empty place at the table, a favorite chair without its familiar resident, or a laugh that no longer carries through the house causes us to feel an emptiness for an instant. We move on, but those little thoughts never leave our hearts—faces and voices missing as we celebrate together.
For others, it is a season of separation. With minds and abilities taken from them, loved ones sit quietly in homes that are not their homes. There will be visits, but they will not be a part of the family gatherings. There will be those who sit at home enjoying the festivities when crossing their minds will be the ones missing, still alive, but no longer able to be a part of family togetherness. It will bring a moment of sadness in the middle of a time of joy.
This year brings another time of sadness since so many will not get together as a family. The pandemic has drawn a season of separation into the lives of so many. Our other son, Chris, and his family live in Corpus Christi. It appears we won’t be able to see his family this year. We won’t be able to share in the excitement of our granddaughters on Christmas morning and the joy and laughter they feel. We’ll mail the gifts but will not be able to enjoy that special time with them.
For many, “the season to be jolly” will be overshadowed with a “season of sadness.” We should always keep this in mind as we are around those who have lost someone close. We should have a special understanding and realize that there will come moments where a memory of someone lost or who cannot be with them at this time of the year overcomes their joy. At this particular time of the year, the hurt can become a little more painful. There will be those hurting as a loved one sits silently in a home away from home. There will be sadness of loved ones not being able to get together. There will be losses of all kinds.
The pain of loss never leaves us. Scars remain with the hurt arising at times when a loved one’s absence becomes more evident. During these times, the understanding of those close becomes an essential cure for their loss.
Unwanted separation dampens the spirits of us all, whether the absence is a loss by death or just one that keeps us apart. Amid our joy and celebration, take time to pay attention to the lonely neighbor or hurting friend. Just a few words or kind action may change their “season of sadness” to one of joy, knowing others care for them.
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ