I'll have a blue Christmas without you;
I'll be so blue just thinking about you.
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won't be the same, dear, if you're not here with me.
And when those blue snowflakes start falling,
That's when those blue memories start calling.
You'll be doin' all right, with your Christmas of white,
But I'll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas.
-- Words and music by Billy Hayes - Jay Johnson.
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Except, for many people, it's not.
Chanukah, Christmas, Yule, Eid ul Adha, Bodhi Day, Kwaanza -- these are all holidays and celebrations from all around the world and different religions that hold something important in common -- they emerged from an understanding that the darkness of life can sometimes be deep and overwhelming, and we look for light and inspiration to carry us through the darkness. In our current cultural practice, however, we often focus exclusively on the light and celebratory nature of the season. And we do so with great energy and excitement.
While some people thrive on the excitement of December, there are others who do not. For some, the increased expectation of happiness as depicted in the advertisements on television is far from reality. The sometimes frantic pace can become almost more than they can bear.
Some people are facing a holiday after the death of a loved one or after a divorce. Others have suffered through an emotional trauma. Some simply feel pressured and overwhelmed by holiday preparations or at a loss because they are far from home and family. Still others feel a disconnection between the cultural celebration and their religious beliefs and practice. Many people this year struggle with economic loss and fear about the coming year.
Over a decade ago, many faith communities began to provide worship opportunities for those who were experiencing a blue Christmas and/or blue holiday season. Using quiet, reflective music and readings, and giving people the opportunity to openly acknowledge their sense of loss without being called "humbugs," these services have steadily increased in popularity. Sometimes called "Longest Night" services -- because they are often held near the winter solstice which, literally, is the longest night of the year -- such services usually acknowledge the darkness that is felt, but also point quietly and reassuringly to the light of hope.
The chaplains at UMMC pride themselves on providing just such services during the holiday season. These services are quieter than many holiday celebrations, and they are be interfaith -- that is to say, people of any religious practice (as well as those who do not have a religious practice or belief) should find the services welcoming and meaningful.
Wednesday, December 19th at 3:30 a.m.; 12:00 p.m. and continuously during shift change from 6:15 p.m.- 8:15 p.m.