“It’s okay to not be okay,” said Reverend Bev Brazier. That’s the concept around the Blue Christmas service held at the United Church on Sunday, December 3. The annual service anticipates that Christmas can be a very intense and challenging time for some people. “The media plays up Christmas as a joyful time – and it can be,” Brazier explained. “But for those with grief, having difficulties in life, or struggling to buy all the gifts they are being told they should get, Christmas is often a sad time.”The focus of the service is acknowledging that Christmas can be a sad, painful time for individuals and that the service is a safe place to gather and feel that way. No one asks why you attend and the service isn’t about why you’re there, it’s simply about being in a space that supports how you feel. It’s a quieter, less social event than most services, according to Brazier, and, while attendance changes from year-to-year, it usually attracts 40 to 50 attendees. Afterwards, attendees may join an optional reception for tea or coffee snacks, and a chance to chat if they wish.
Or if they prefer to avoid the social aspect, that’s up to them, as well. Brazier points out that for those unable to attend, the services held on Wednesdays at noon during the leadup to Christmas take on a similar atmosphere. They are quieter and more contemplative. “During the Advent season, those services are focused on the individual and individuals can enjoy silence or light a candle for someone they’ve lost. They definitely take on a similar approach to the Blue Christmas service,” she explained. But the whole point is for the church to provide a haven for those challenged to find their place in the holiday season. “It’s a space where people and their pain are honoured and held gently,” Brazier said. “We view it as a consistent way to celebrate Christmas. God is also here is to take on our pain.”