"As Christmas approaches, most of us will be preparing for the season's celebrations. The religious among us will be looking forward to the Birth of Christ being celebrated at Midnight Mass and Christmas morning service. Many love Christmas for other reasons, like the holiday it provides from work, the time it gives parents and grandparents to spend with their families and loved ones, along with everyone who simply loves partaking of the food and drink extravagances that come with Christmas; and not forgetting the presents to buy, wrap, give and receive. Yes! For the overwhelming majority of us, Christmas is a good time of the year to look forward to.
But what about those who don't like Christmas, can't stand it and indeed even hate the season? One would be surprised how many dread it coming around each year and can only breath again once it has been and gone!
If the spirit of Christmas is about giving, just as God gave the world His only son, then the ones who are left with memories of a Christmas that 'took away' their happiness instead of increasing it, will experience the season much differently than you or I. I refer primarily to people who lost a loved one who sadly died one Christmas time through illness, natural causes, tragic accident or criminal homicide.
I find it hard to imagine how one must feel if their strongest recollection of Christmas Day is an unhappy one. How sad it must be when their child, sibling, father, mother, husband, wife or lover died. I find it wholly unimaginable to place myself inside the shoes of another parent or spouse whose child or partner was murdered at Christmas time. When I was a Probation Officer, I never missed calling to see the mother of a boy who was killed one Christmas Eve after he'd stolen a car and was in a police chase that ended in a horrific crash and his death at the Birstall traffic lights. Every year I called to her home in Batley to wish her well. She still showed signs of loss in her eyes and across her face; even ten years after.
Christmas is that time of year when life for the New year is heralded by the promise of a newborn star. It is a time when the hardest of hearts can be softened, arguments put to one side and peace restored between two people who were once enemies and are now friends. To see Christmas represent hurt, hardship, loss and sadness, I find extremely hard to bear.
While none of us can bring back the loved one lost by another, the least we can do as friends and compassionate neighbours is not to forget that they will be alone with their thoughts and feelings this Christmas, even though others may be around them. Send them a card that tells them that you are aware of the loss they still must feel and let them know that your thoughts and prayers are with them.
Because I know how difficult Christmas can be, one year ago I wrote and published a romantic novel called, 'The woman who hated Christmas'. This book is available in e-book format from www.smashword.com or in paper/hard copy from www.lulu.com or amazon, with all profits from its sale going to charity. Should you be contemplating buying it as a present for some adult reader and you would like to read it for free first, you may do so by accessing it on my website below." William Forde: December 7th, 2016.