Christmas Bipolar Syndrome
Ah, the season of Christmas joy… Why is it, then, that Christmas seems like one of the least happy times for most people? I'm no psychologist, but it should be called, ‘Christmas Bipolar Syndrome’ (and not for the reasons of Santa living in the North Pole vs the South Pole).
Take shopping during this time of year, for example. Most people are so happy to be Christmas shopping, that they love to share the ‘joy’ with others; they shout at them for no reason, cut in front of them on the road only to stop at the same light, and pay no attention to the freezing cold Salvation Army bell person as they are going in and out of the store. Yet, if asked how they like shopping during the season, they’ll readily say, ‘Oh, we love Christmas shopping…”
Not to be cynical, mind you. The awareness of Christmas Bipolar Syndrome is something that builds over years of watching people, myself included, repeating the same process over and over and over again. We’re supposed to be happy this time of year, but the process of getting everything done, from shopping to cooking to cleaning to travel, makes us more like the Grinch than like Santa.
This is a time for family and a time to celebrate together. While, for some, the thought of being in the same room for more than a few minutes with that awkward relative, is enough for them to spend most of their time at the spiced eggnog bowl.
Financial stress is probably one of the biggest contributors to Christmas Bipolar Syndrome. We swipe the card freely with a smile at the check-out stand only later to think of ourselves like the guy on that TV commercial driving around on his lawn mower saying, ‘We have everything, but we’re in debt up to our eyeballs. Someone please help us…’
The truth is, we have been told we should be joyous at Christmas through years of slick marketing designed to motivate us to shop more. It’s a sounding drum to drive people to buy those gifts they can’t afford and to think of nothing but the wrappings of Christmas, instead of the true gift.
All is not lost, however. Christmas Bipolar Syndrome can be cured, and I don’t mean by giving all the presents under the tree to the nearest neighbor who is less fortunate (although, that wouldn’t be a bad idea to some extent). It won’t be cured through self-medication, meditation, keeping as busy as possible, or with purchasing even more gifts.
Some things in life just can’t be changed and are something we’ll have to face, no matter what we do. Such as the relatives who are now past, missing at their place at the table, or the loss of a job two weeks before Christmas, or the loss of a close relationship. Real life will always be there with us. It’s unavoidable and is, what I believe, the main cause for Christmas Bipolar Syndrome. We act happy putting on the Christmas cheer, but underneath, we are hurting and feel alone.
True Christmas joy won’t be found in a present, a bottle, or a tree. It will be found in giving, not just of material things, but from the heart. It will be found spending time with the lonely, giving a hug when it’s needed, caring for others who need love, and letting go of the worldly expectations laid before us replacing them with the knowing that, no matter what we do, nothing can compare to the greatest gift given; God’s Son.
As is commonly plastered on the local church signs during Christmas, ‘He is the reason for the season’. I heard that years ago, and it still rings true today. Keeping Him the focus, not just by putting a manger scene in our front yard, but by sharing His love with others. That will cure any case of Christmas Bipolar Syndrome and replace it with true Christmas joy every time…
So, this Christmas, I’ll be working to keep my heart, and mind, from falling into Christmas Bipolar Syndrome (it has already been a struggle) by keeping my heart focused on the true meaning of Christmas; God’s love for all of us. That, my friends, brings a smile, a true smile, to my face every time…
Love always my friends,
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