Many Christmas mornings, even though I was in the middle of chaotic joy, I was sad. Not really depressed, just sad and deflated. The children took turns opening presents. Sometimes it was a simple puzzle or much-needed clothes but the they oohed and awed over each present. Some made jokes but they all laughed, savouring each moment.
Although I was their mother, I often felt disconnected from this scene. There was so much preparation and anticipation in the days leading up to Christmas that I was tired on the big day. Tiredness led to a sense of sinking emptiness. I know that this experience is common probably because advertizing assumes that we will be merry on Christmas Day. It is difficult to live up to all those images of happy, smiling faces.
Yet, I cannot manufacture joy with my effort. I recall that joy is a gift and it is not elusive. It is as near to all of us as our next breath, as is God Himself and God connects each one of us to every other person on earth. This truth snaps me back into reality. Deeper than any surface sadness is eternal life, energy and joy.
I am not simply spouting off memorized dogma or theology. Everyone who stops for a moment, takes a few calming breaths and looks within will discover God or some sense of a Universal Presence and he will snap out of his misery. I call this process Spiritual Cognitive Therapy and I have seen it work instantly with people who are quite mentally ill.
One other way to connect to God and emerge from the prison of self is laughter, especially laughter at ourselves. It shakes us out of self-destructive, negative thinking and emotions. My emotions seem to grip me and hold on tight when I fight to become happy but they simple vaporize when I can laugh at my self-dramatics. Laughter connects me to my true self and to the Holy Spirit. Laughter is the best medicine.