[Image: a newspaper announcement for a "Blue Christmas" service tonight.]
Across North America, churches (mostly mainline Protestant or interfaith congregations) are offering "blue Christmas" or "Darkest Night" services tonight, in recognition that not everyone experiences the holidays as a time of joy and celebration. They invite folks who, for reasons related to depression, anxiety, pain, loneliness, grief, or personal crisis, want to avoid the traditional jollity and cheer of community gatherings, to attend a winter solstice service that more closely reflects a complicated relationship with the season.
I haven't attended one of these services, but the effort is encouraging: better than casual "hey, cheer up, it's Christmas" responses, anyway. It may be a once-a-year thing for some congregations, but in others, such offerings could well represent a broader commitment to respect and address difficulty and diversity.