Shonebarger

The Christmas season is here! Gatherings of every sort are being experienced. Church programs, office parties and family reunions are all being observed. The fantasy of a Christmas resembling a Hallmark movie with snow, mistletoe and special moments, is the dream of many holiday hosts. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it?

The sweet sound of Christmas music playing, gifts being exchanged and goodies being eaten are all a part of the holiday ambience. However, not everybody in town has the benefit of all the “comfort and joy” experienced by others. There are many depressed individuals in our communities who are alone and separated from their children. For them, the holiday is not the season to be jolly.

I grew up in a broken home. I can remember spending a few hours with my father and siblings on Christmas Eve. We enjoyed our brief time with Dad. He did his best to have our time together be a special one. However, he didn’t have a Christmas tree in his apartment; he didn’t have music playing and he didn’t have baked goodies. We had a meal at the local fast-food restaurant before going to his apartment for gifts. But yes, he was trying.

As I look back on my childhood and with these recollections, I realize he was struggling emotionally with the holiday. He was deeply depressed and didn’t have a reason to “deck the halls” of his small dwelling for Christmas. Except for these brief hours with his kids, he was alone. The ghost of Christmas past haunted him. The memories of past Christmases with his wife and kids, laughing and celebrating, were over.

After spending a few hours with Dad at his apartment, we took our gifts and headed for our house. Mom would be waiting for us to arrive. Our new stepdad was there and he was doing all he could to win us over emotionally. The gifts were large, expensive and numerous. All the joys of Christmas were experienced here with the gifts, the food and the mood.

I recall my father watching us, as were got out of the car to go into the house. There, the house was thoroughly decorated with colored lights of the season. My dad said goodbye. Another man got to spent Christmas with his ex-wife and kids. He sobbed.

My heart goes out to the divorced parent spending Christmas alone. Dealing with the realities of a court order declaring the “ex” as the one who gets the kids is difficult. The pain of the children talking about a new stepparent in glowing terms can be gut wrenching. Life going on without you is a reality seemingly impossible. The thoughts of whether the kids remember you trouble your thoughts.

I want to encourage divorced parents this Christmas. I recognize your pain and suffering. I realize that there really is such a thing as a “Blue Christmas.” However, it’s not the end of the story. There is a Christmas future! Your relationship with your children can be strengthened through the years and when they are independent adults, different plans can be facilitated.

There are many individuals suffering this holiday season who contemplate suicide. I want to encourage you to reach out for help. From your clergy, a counselor or to the national suicide hotline at 800-273-8255, there are people who care about you. Do not lose hope. There are better days ahead.

Finally, let us remember our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You are loved by God and He has a purpose for you. You matter! May God’s love and strength sustain you this Christmas and throughout the year.

Contact Jon at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.