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Sun Dec 22, 2019, 05:06 PM

Making Space For Sadness; 'Blue Xmas' Services Offer Refuge From Holiday Cheer

Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. And across the country, some churches are offering "Blue Christmas" services setting aside the tinsel and other trappings for a night, to acknowledge the darkness in life.

Carolyn Nelson's husband died 15 years ago, and she misses him. Especially around the holidays. "That's someone I celebrated with," Nelson explains. "And when that's gone you feel lost. It can be a hard time for people." And it's even harder when the world is full of songs and presents and family gatherings.

"Because you're supposed to be happy and joyful. And of course I do lots of fun things," Nelson acknowledges. "But there's just a little bit that's missing."

So six or seven years ago, Nelson started attending the Longest Night service at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, in Portland, Ore. Also called Blue Christmas, these services are usually held on the solstice...

Making space for sadness: The format of Blue Christmas services vary church to church. But the common theme is dropping the usual merry and bright, and recognizing the hard stuff. People offer prayers and light candles, and open up to the sadness they're carrying. About loss, relationships, addiction.

More, https://www.npr.org/2019/12/21/790163502/blue-christmas-services-offer-refuge-from-holiday-cheer

--More and more congregations are making a space for sad feelings during the holidays. First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland, Ore., held its Blue Christmas service earlier this month.

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