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December 29, 2003

The Christmas Problem

Even though Western society is becoming more and more multicultural, at this time of year, the tradition of Christmas dominates the social, economic, and emotional landscape.

I do not believe that Christmas predominates because of its Christian spiritual theme or the massive consumer machine. I believe that Christmas is huge because it wakes up ancient memories of what it really means to be human—to give and receive within the love and belonging of a close family.

To me, Christmas is not about the birth of Jesus, it is about a loving family and a caring community adoring and celebrating the birth of a child—every child. If each newborn was seen as the Christ (which, in my view, each child is), the world would not be full of poverty, violence, and war.

In our hearts and cells, we know this. And every Christmas, these primordial feelings are awakened. As these feeling-laden memories arise, they stand in stark comparison with our own reality—families that are broken, dispersed, neurotic, conflict-ridden, or simply non-existent. For most of us, this reality hurts.

Although financial pressures add to the "holiday" stress, I believe that the seasonal increase of depression, anxiety, and suicide is directly linked to the clash of our humans needs with the harsh reality of our existing family dysfunction.

We can try to suffer through Christmas or even avoid it all together, but then we miss a great opportunity—to feel and heal. If we can find the safe support to do so, we can feel what we are missing and clear some of the hurt and disappointment from our systems. With continued work, we may be able to create lives in which we celebrate each other—at Christmas—and every other day of the year.



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