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Christmas: Day 18 and Counting - 2000 Miles

Today, listening to Christmas music, I could not have been more surprised. This is one of my absolute favorite Christmas songs. The version we are most familiar with was recorded by Coldplay. Chris Martin plays the piano like no one else and sings even better. I love this version. The surprise...Coldplay didn't write this song. Originally it was written and performed by The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde in 1983. Now, I was a big fan of this group but never, ever heard this song. Until Coldplay. I feel so musically illiterate! Either way, the song triggers feelings many people experience around Christmas time and many other holidays. It's sad in a way because of the picture it draws of one being away from someone they love. But beautiful in a way because of the snowy winter, Christmas-y feeling that's portrayed.

2000 Miles - The Pretenders

 He's gone, 2000 miles, Is very far.
The snows falling down.
It's colder day by day.
I miss you.
The children were singing,
He'll be back at Christmas time.
And these frozen and silent nights,
Sometimes in a dream, You appear.
Outside under the purple sky,
Diamonds in the snow, Sparkle.
Our hearts were singing,
It felt like Christmas time.
2000 miles is very far through the snow
I'll think of you Wherever you go.
He's gone, 2000 miles Is very far.
The snows falling down,
It's colder day by day.
I miss you.
I can hear people singing,
It must be Christmas time.
I hear people singing,
It must be Christmas time.

How many times have you heard statistics about depression increasing drastically around  Christmastime? We've all heard them, probably from a nightly news program or read it in a magazine. Then they go into all the reasons why people are more depressed. Possibly over the serious spike in commercialism over the holiday. People are bombarded by advertisements, commercials on TV and even your email blows up with daily specials that scream act now or you'll miss this huge, one-time-only, lowest-prices-this-year-sale. Literally, every day, I get 20-30+ emails with these advertisements. It feels like I'm being invaded, it's definitely an irritation and I dread going to my inbox. So I can see how some people would get depressed. Some might get depressed at having to spend a lot of money on a lot of people. Perhaps they already have stress with their jobs, are limited in their budget, but somehow still want to live up to the idea that gifts are expected. Then, some have expressed that there's the seemingly unavoidable obligation of spending time with family or extended family or friends that you just don't want to be with. But out of obligation you say yes but the end result is depression.

This season is also a time for questioning and examining yourself. This causes stress and depression. Even though the story of Santa calling the shots on who's naughty or nice, the truth is, at a heart level, people know which is true of themselves. The brutal reality that perhaps this past year hasn't been so great, can cause some to lose hope that next year will be any better. They might feel trapped in the place where they are and have no hope of moving on. It's sad to see people depressed and stuck emotionally.

Another reason, and I think the biggest one, is the feeling people get when they realize they have no one with whom to celebrate this joyous occasion. Loneliness. People from all walks of life, all income levels, all social strata, all religions and nationalities can be affected by loneliness. The anxiety of the season builds with everyone talking about their plans to be with family or friends for the holidays but some will be with no one. Millions of people share their travel plans, while others have no plans to go anywhere. Separation from those we love and feel connected to can cause great stress, depression and sadness at the thought of not seeing or being with them. I'm beginning to understand what they are going through.

Being apart from family is just hard. Your hearts are connected, or should be, you're there in spirit, but physically there are too many miles between you. This knowledge that the separation is inevitable can wreck you months, weeks in advance. No matter what your heart wants, there's no guarantee that it will happen. It doesn't matter how you plan, how you organize, how you dream. The truth is there's always room for disappointment. Being alone, or without family close on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, is one of the saddest times. You want to be a part of reading the Christmas story together, exchanging gifts, the fun of opening gifts, hearing the laughs, sharing hot chocolate and marshmallows, smell of cinnamon rolls, surrounded by the scent of pine from the brightly dressed tree in the room. You want to be a part of those family photos and watching the kids play with their new toys for hours. None of these dreams are guaranteed. For some, the best time of Christmas is the day after. Its over, there's no more pressure, you can see life moving in the direction of getting back to normal and the feelings of loneliness change to feelings of relief that you've survived another holiday. After years of experiencing this, it would seem as if you could get used to it, respond more maturely, less emotionally. But this isn't the case. Emotions are timeless. They are as fresh a year from now as they are this very minute.

If you are struggling with any of these, I found a short list from Psychology Today ( that might help you get through the season. It isn't exhaustive by any means, but they are practical and relevant.

  • First, if the depression is serious, seek out the help of a qualified mental health professional;
  • Set personal boundaries regarding the money spent on gifts and the number of social events;
  • Don't accept any "perfect" representation of Christmas that the media, institutions or other people try to make you believe. Lower your expectations and any attachment to what it should look like; be present and enjoy each moment as best you can;
  • Become involved in giving in a non-monetary way through charities and worthwhile causes that help less fortunate people;
  • Be grateful for what you have in your life, rather than focusing on what you don't have;
  • Avoid excessive rumination about your life; 
  • Take action and do interesting and fun things;
  • If you are religious, take part in church activities that focus on the bigger meaning of Christmas;
  • Focus your thoughts on all the good things about Christmas--the opportunity to engage in loving kindness, generosity of spirit, and gratitude for others in your life.

Your challenge (and mine): Be on the lookout for people who might be experiencing these feelings and embrace them into your plans, your celebrations and festivities. If it's you that is separated from family and you are feeling it, make the first move, pick up the phone, write a letter, or send an invitation. Make plans, if not for this Christmas season, then soon after. It will give you something else to focus on besides the sadness you may be experiencing right now.You're not alone, really. I'm sad without family nearby, too. Guess I need to make some calls, write some cards and make some plans.


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