Thursday, December 23, 2010
Alive for the holidays. Thursday, December 23, 2010.
“I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” – Linus van Pelt
Have you heard the one about the suicide rate going up at Christmas? Turns out it’s not true. Actually, springtime sees a larger share of suicides.
There’s a number of reasons why so many of us believe the “fact” that the holidays spark suicidal urges. For one thing, the holiday blues are real, especially for those that lack connections to friends and family. Use of alcohol goes up. And the exposure to so much conspicuous material consumption can make people facing economic hard times feel even more hopeless.
But good things happen during the holidays. More people volunteer to help those in need, and more people reach out to those who feel marginalized. For all the bad press Christmas receives, there really IS a holiday spirit, and maybe that’s why – despite all the stress and booze – the suicide rate actually doesn’t increase.
Most families I know (including my own) received fewer cards this year than usual. I’m guessing that it’s a reflection of hard times. This Christmas, our nation has an unfathomable number of people hungry, homeless and sick. These are the very people Christians believe that Jesus, whose birthday we are celebrating, held in the highest honor.
Somehow, Jesus’ birthday became about reindeer and snowmen and presents under a tree, but the true meaning of Christmas is about God’s birth inside our hearts.
Most of the people reading this blog came close to not being here to observe this holiday. At some point (or points) in the past, you decided that your life was not worth living. Your suffering was so great that you believed the only way to end it was to not be alive. You may have come to believe this even if you believe in God. You may have felt God had abandoned you. Maybe you still feel this way.
If no one reaches out to you in your need this holiday, consider reaching out to someone else. I believe that God is within us, whether or not we perceive him. Whether or not you believe in God or practice a faith tradition, and whatever your situation, my wish for you is that you experience a sense of divine peace this holiday. You are alive.