Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas ornament, Author Kristina Servant, Source (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

Blue Christmas ornament, Author Kristina Servant, Source (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

WARNING: Graphic Images

“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me.”

– “Blue Christmas”, Elvis Presley

The holidays can be a difficult time for abuse victims, especially those of us suffering from depression.  We cannot help but compare the idealized scenes of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali festivities with our own childhood experiences.

Even the “best” of holiday gatherings may have been rife with tension.  All too often, there was little to be joyful about.


Children in dysfunctional homes do not receive the care and attention they deserve.  Through no fault of their own, they may become the targets of their parents’ rage or neglect.

There are numerous reasons for this [1].  A child may have been the product of an unwanted pregnancy or hard delivery; may seem in some way “abnormal” or resemble someone toward whom the parent has harsh feelings.  A parent may actually be jealous of the child.  None of these reasons justifies abuse.

Uneven Affection

Affection, if it is given at all, can be unevenly distributed.  One child may be showered with gifts and praise, while another is heaped with scorn – made the target of punishment and criticism, with the favored child encouraged to join in.  This can warp the relationship between siblings or destroy it outright.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse only aggravates the situation.  Holiday memories pile on holiday memories:  Christmas trees toppled; presents non-existent or smashed in anger; an intoxicated parent in a stupor on the lawn, reeking.


As the years go by, the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that victims endured as children impacts their adult lives.  This, in turn, generates pain and regrets, all of which resurface at the holidays.


Our sorrow seems to stand in sharp contrast to the merriment of others.  We cannot, of course, see into their hearts to know.  Many are likely to be putting on as brave a face in public as we are.

Coping Strategies

In an effort to cope, some of us throw ourselves into holiday activities 24/7 – cooking, baking, buying, and wrapping at a frenetic pace.  Some may be tempted to eat or drink themselves into oblivion.  There are though healthier strategies for dealing with the holidays.

A.  Reducing the Pace

Not all holiday activities require our participation.  We may want to cut back, and spend time in a way that comforts and reassures us.  Skiing, sitting by the fire with a cup of cocoa, or reading a good book are not illegal.  Visiting the aquarium or taking in a movie would be fine, too.

B.  Avoiding Drama

Why not skip the dramatic scenes this year?  Abuse victims are allowed to decline invitations they know will prove distressing – no excuses necessary.

C.  Letting Go of Perfectionism

There are no officials judging our performance.  True, there may be friends or family who see  themselves in that role.   Just think of them as delusional.

Life is not a swim meet timed to the second or a dance recital with every moment carefully choreographed.  Do not buy into the fiction that you must be “perfect”.

D.  Focusing on Spirituality

Above all, abuse victims should try and focus on the spiritual meaning behind the holidays they choose to observe.  From whatever creed those holidays arise, they are intended as celebrations…not tests of stamina.

For Christians, Christ’s miraculous birth should be at the heart of Christmas festivities.  That has very little to do with aluminum trees, laser spotlights, professional decorators, or even fruitcake.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

If that is not enough to inspire us, we can always pull the covers over our heads, and wait it out.  The holidays do pass, eventually.  With a little luck, we’ll survive them again this year!

[1]  Child Abuse Effects, “Why Parents Target a Specific Child for Abuse” by Darlene Barriere, 10/07,



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

21 responses to “Blue Christmas

  1. One word: Amazing post! Actually that’s two words. OK, 4 more words: this made me cry (you know why). Thank you Anna. (I now see very clearly the link between my earlier post this week and yours today). May your Christmas be perfect for you. And may all have a Christmas that makes them feel that they are loved and accepted. May the Word of God prevail in each and every life.

  2. Monochrome nightmares

    A very sad and heartfelt post Anna.

  3. nessa3

    I dread the holidays..its too much hype on love and family fun,connections.
    Anticipation of gifts….It always leaves me lacking…and just wanting it over.
    The dysfunction of families trying to be nice and sweet …when it not…

  4. This has been a harder holiday season than I’ve had for awhile–I hope God has something up His sleeve, otherwise I just want it to be over. But I wish you all the blessings of His season–may you know His Joy, Grace, Love, Peace and Favor ❤

  5. For more years than I can remember I dreaded the holidays. Broken promises,no shows,ungratefulness,all seemed to put me in a bad place. I finally broke free of it all by eliminating the source of a lot of the stress and refocusing on Jesus. What a difference. Thanks Anna for pointing out that we all have options to the madness of the holidays.

    • Abuse victims strive, I think, to recapture what was never there to begin with — as if chasing phantoms could make the past over. We are acutely aware of the gaping holes in our threadbare tapestry. But Jesus sees us as more than our brokenness. He sees who we are because of His intervention, and what we may yet become through Him. That is reason for rejoicing.

  6. Pingback: Holiday Encouragement ~ A Featured Blog Angel | Unraveling the Heart

  7. What a wonderful invitation to ask Him into all our heart.. and what deep insights, Anna. I learned much from this. Thanks again.


  8. Awesome post! The “holidays” are so difficult for so many with broken dreams. Depression becomes deeper. Loneliness increases. But we have to refocus to get through. We have to remember the “REASON for the Season” and get our focus on Him, not worldly things. God bless you, Anna. I pray that you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

  9. So amazing your post, thank you so much for good sharing

  10. Shattered in Him

    This whole time I have been watching A Lawyer’s Prayers for updates not even realizing I have been missing your updates here!!! So glad I came to check. You inform in such powerful ways.

  11. Hello there dear Anna… a quite accurate post… Holidays could be a different time for many people… abuse victims are more susceptive during those days of celebration… and for those ones leading with depression and grief it could be a very tough time… Thanks so much for the reminder. This post allows us to notice and hence to prevent mood relapses …
    Sending love and wishing you happy holidays 🙂

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