First, go read Have Yourself A Melancholy Christmas by Tyler Huckabee. It's excellent and is a great jumping off point for what I've been thinking.
Why do so many of us struggle with depression during this time of year? Christmas should be a happy time! There are lights and Christmas carols and Christmas trees and Nativity scenes. Why should we be sad?
We should be sad because it's winter. Christmas Day is only four days after the shortest day of the year. I grew up in South Florida, so I never understood the reality of Seasonal Affective Disorder. After 19 years in Wisconsin, I certain get the reality of the shorter days and the colder weather.
And, from a faith perspective, we are in Advent, not yet Christmas. We are still in the waiting time. We are waiting for the Messiah. It's night and we're waiting for dawn.
But, it's also a hard time personally. My depression gets worse because of the dark, but also because it's hard to get enough exercise. There are also several unpleasant anniversary events that occur during later November and December. I've lost several good friends, had difficult work events, and other hard personal situations happen over the last fifteen years. All that to the extra social events and expectations of the season, my mood can drop fast.
I'm taking a higher dose of antidepressant this year. I'm not trying to run a yarn shop. I have fewer things on my to-do list. Even with the headaches, I'm enjoying the season this year, much more than I have in a long time.
Yes, Christmas can be fragile. We expect to be joyful during this season, but there are lots of reasons why we don't.
That's OK. God isn't expecting us to be all smiles and happy because it's December. He's expecting us to love each other. Whatever it takes, love. Do less if you need to. Hold the holidays with care, as if they are a fragile ornament that will break.