What colour is your Christmas?

This is a very special time of the year–garlands and ornaments, cookies and plum puddings, poinsettias and Christmas trees, cantatas and carols, presents and gift wrap, red and green . . . and blue.
When I was growing up, everything was red and green, except the Christmas tree lights, which were multi-coloured.
My husband, on the other hand, remembers a magic Christmas tree with real candles. The eight-foot tree was in the front of his country school and the myriad of candles were lit the evening of the school program.
He has fond memories of the programs–the Christmas plays he acted in, the gift exchange, and Santa Claus with his “Ho! Ho! Ho!” distributing little bags of candy and nuts to the 30 students in the school.
In retrospect, he worries about the tragedy that never happened. The whole community was packed in the schoolhouse, as many as 150 people, with only one exit.
What if? Yes, what if the candles would have ignited the beautiful tree!
But they didn’t, so the magic is still there for him.
I, on the other hand, had a twinge of sadness when the gifts were distributed during our school program.
Our school was small, so our gifts were from our teacher. There were five in my grade. When we started school, our respective ages were eight, seven, six, five, and four.
Unfortunately, I was the four-year-old!
And on two separate occasions, our teacher gave the same gift to the other girls, but a slightly different one to me because “I was younger.”
One gift I still have is a Grimm’s Fairy Tales book, tattered and torn from use. I loved the book, but the other girls received books alike from a series.
And one time it was hand-knitted mittens. I can’t remember how their mittens differed, but I’m sure they did.
The disappointment was not serious enough to ruin my Christmas, but it was real to me at the time.
My husband’s experience and my experience of our school Christmas programs are a microcosm of life. The holidays, with red and green and tinsel and fun, also can make us a little “blue,” especially as we get older and experience life’s difficulties.
Both my parents died close to Christmas–27 years apart. And last Christmas, I had a small accident that kept me homebound for seven months.
My home health nurse, Valerie, came to attend my wound for the first time on Christmas Day.
Everyone this side of 60 has had similar experiences.
So if you feel “blue” during the holiday season, remember that you aren’t alone. The U.S. National Mental Health Association reports as many as four out of 10 people feel that way.
But there are things you can do to help. Get plenty of rest, keep on exercising, don’t dwell on the past, and keep Christmas preparations simple. Bake fewer Christmas cookies, simplify your gift-giving, and remember “colour therapy” is recommended by the experts.
The gray days of December can contribute to the “holiday blues.” So wear a sunny yellow dress and decorate your living room with bright reds and greens.
Plant an amaryllis bulb. Even thinking of the colour to come will lift your mood.
Surround yourself with your favourite colors and enjoy the season.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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