Dr. Sohail, I hate Christmas! I get so angry at this time of year. I’m tired of hearing how wonderful Christmas is. I’m running out of patience with the unending pressure to buy presents for people who need nothing, whereas people in need receive precious little financial aid to buy the necessities of life. I’m tired of being treated discourteously by rude sales clerks. It’s especially difficult to have to listen to peoples’ plans for wonderful family get-togethers. Why do I have to put on a happy face at Christmas functions, when I prefer to go home, lock the door, and forget about Christmas completely? I hate the gaudy Christmas lights and trees, the inflated snowmen with vacant smiles, and the morbidly obese Santa’s that try to convince me that Christmas is a happy, fulfilling time. This evening, my anger almost pushed me over the edge. In a fit of rage, I threw a book violently across the living room, and then savagely ripped it in four.
When my anger abated and rational thought returned, a sobering thought came to me. Is it possible that it’s not Christmas I’m really angry about? Maybe Christmas amplifies my dissatisfaction at how lonely and meaningless my life has turned out in my retirement years. I’m starting to realize that this bitterness is not serving me well. It alienates me from others and actually fuels the loneliness I’m trying to escape from. And worse still, by emphasizing what’s wrong with my life, it damages my self-esteem. It would be of greater benefit to think of ways to brighten up my life instead of railing against the shortcomings of the Christmas season. As Helen Keller so eloquently advises, maybe I could, try lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness.