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A season to celebrate, reach out to others

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Leslie Forbes-Mariani
  • U.S. Transportation Command

Each year at this time, around the world, celebrations and merry-making hit a high note. In North America, what we now know as Christmas has become both a secular holiday as well as religious. Many traditions of the season have been gathered together from many peoples, other religions and various traditions apart from Christian.

The Christmas season as celebrated in the Christian Church has three segments; it starts with Advent on the forth Sunday from Christmas (usually the Sunday of Thanksgiving) and ends on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Then the second segment referred to as the 12 Days of Christmas, run from Christmas Day to Epiphany the last segment. So we can officially celebrate the Christmas Holidays Thanksgiving through the first of the year.

No guilt for those of you who love to decorate right after Thanksgiving!

During this time of year there are additional wonderful opportunities to celebrate. Some celebrate the New Year with parties and noise making. Many churches have a service over the midnight hour and start the New Year with a fast or feast to seek God for direction in the coming year.

The Jewish Holiday Hanukkah often falls in the mix of the Christmas holidays celebrating the miracle of lights where for eight days the oil lamp was lit in the temple with only one day supply. It’s celebrated with lighting candles and remembering the miracle with family, food and gift giving.

We celebrate with dancing, laughing, and expressions in the creative arts. This joy gives us strength, helps us bond, and brings us together. There are many opportunities to celebrate and create new traditions, however for some, these holidays are the most difficult.

Some enter into a depression overwhelmed with the efforts to enter in to the merry-making when they do not feel merry. Some experience the lowest time after the holidays. If this is what you experience, I suggest talking to someone to help you navigate this time of year. Help is available; talk to a friend or family member, chaplain or clergy, or behavioral health specialist … you are not alone.

For supervisors, friends or for those who may need help, please keep these numbers readily available should you need assistance: Suicide Hotline: (800) 273-8255; Family Advocacy: 256-7203; Behavioral Health: 256-7386; and the Scott Chapel: 256-4046.