Blue Christmas

Posted by Censor Librorum on Dec 24, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

“Blue Christmas” services are being held at a growing number of churches this year. Some are nondenominational. The good cheer expected at the holidays can make people who are dealing with heartbreak feel worse. “We have to have the perfect Christmas and we have to be happy this time of year–when the reality is we’re not,” said the Rev. Emily Richards, pastor of St. Stephens’s Episcopal Church in Ridgefield, CT. “This is an opportunity for people to come and be in the presence of God and acknowledge their grief and despair and loneliness and give it to God.”

Blue Christmas services confront the feelings of grief and loss head-on. “Holidays in our culture are often about families, and families are not often happy institutions,” said Kate O’Dwyer Randall, chaplain of the University of Richmond. “I think particularly if you’re facing a death or divorce, the ’empty chair’ syndrome becomes very real this time of year.”

Christine Moll, a mental health counselor in Buffalo, NY, who has helped two churches develop holiday programs for depressed parishioners, said that all the holiday cheer can make people dealing with death, divorce, or family dysfunction feel more out of place and more misterable. “All the glitz, the tinsel, and what have you, the decorations, conjure up that we all need to be having some sort of Normal Rockwell experience,” she said.

Blue Christmas liturgies, even meditations for one, are a much needed spiritual resource for many lesbian and gay people. When I was reading the Blue Christmas story online, I thought of “Patty” on the CCL Forum, who I’m sure feels the holidays hard in grieving over the loss of her partner. Many of the Dignity Masses at the holidays were forms of Blue Christmas services for the people who had been kicked out, shunned, not welcome with a partner, or just grudgingly accepted by their families at the holiday table. At least this was the case 25 years ago, and I’m sure it still exists to some extent today, especially among older lesbians and gay men.

I am going to ask a friend to prepare a Blue Christmas liturgy and meditation for one that we can post on this site next year.

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One Response to “Blue Christmas”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for this post. Yes it would be great if your friend could prepare a liturgy for next year. But in the meanwhile I would suggest something I have found very useful for me. Not in face of a particular loss or grief, but because I grew increasingly exasperated with the forced good cheers of the Christimas season.
    To take the time to sit at the nativity scene alone or together as a small group, and imagine oneself as one of the people there: the cranky innkeeper, a shepherd, the ass (!), Mary…, according to how you feel and are so inclined. Do nothing, just imagine yourself there and let the mood of the place, of the event, -the grace I should say-, slowly be born in you.

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