A Touch of Holiday Red

Dec. 3, 2009
Despite the festivities history has shown it is a time of year many people get the blues.

As I write this column it is a few days past Halloween and Christmas commercials are already on television. The stores are carrying Christmas decorations and my grandkids are already hard at work on their Christmas gift lists.

Despite the festivities history has shown it is a time of year many people get the blues. It's often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And those of us in law enforcement aren’t exempt from this malady.

The literature tells us there are a number of reasons people suffer from SAD. Lack of sunlight, the colder weather causing aches and pains, and in some cases the ghosts of Christmas’ past.

The holiday season is also a time of increased motor vehicle crashes that take limbs if not life itself. As Cops we tend to see the worst of the worst. I recall a multi-fatality accident some years back with kids involved that left wrapped presents strewn along the roadway never to be opened by those they were intended for.

It is sights like these that tug at the heart strings of even the toughest among us. These mental pictures remind us of our own kids and grandkids. So naturally they tend to make the holidays a little less light hearted.

Then there are the thoughts of those we arrest on Christmas Eve not getting to spend the holidays with their families. Knowing it is their own fault; we can't help but wonder how their child might feel the following day without mom or dad at the dinner table.

Despite the bah humbug of the holiday season some of us might wallow in, we need to remember the good events the holidays bring. We need to go out of our way to keep our own spirits bright. Someone once said, You can't swim in the sewer without getting some of it on you. We need to remember this because we tend to reflect the negatives we see and deal with back onto our family and friends. So especially during the holidays we need to go out of our way to make Christmas bright. If we take a few minutes to do that it is sure to pay off in spades to those around us we love.

I'm approaching this column from my own faith tradition that celebrates Christmas but the same approach applies to most any traditions holiday be it Christmas, Chanukah or Ramadan.

There is a time when we have to give back. It may be a simple smile, an inexpensive gift to someone along the beat, or a hot cup of coffee to a homeless person. It only takes a minute and it pays big dividends.

There is a Biblical saying, like begets like. In other words you become what you do. Or a kind gesture brings another in return.

When I was growing up before the days of television there was a show on the radio my family listened to weekly. I don't remember what it was called, but I do remember the tagline. If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be. And it's true. If we as law enforcement officers took that minute or two to do something special for someone during the holidays we would be lighting one of those candles. And the world could become a brighter place if only for a moment or for a day.

It is too easy to become cynical in law enforcement. It's too easy to adopt the 80/20 principal that says 80% of the people we come in contact with are bad, when the opposite is true. Fact is 20% of the people we deal with cause 80% of the negative issues we battle as Cops.

Let's make a promise to ourselves this year that we are going to reflect the good in life back to our family and friends. That we are going to be one of those thousand points of light.

Let's resolve to make the holidays better for our families, for those we work with and thus ourselves.

If everyone lit just one little candle what a bright world this would be.

About the Author

Dave Fair | Chaplin

Chaplain Dave Fair is a former Board Member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains, where he served as Chair of the Education Committee. He is a Senior Chaplain for the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Brown County (TX) Sheriff's Department where is also serves as a reserve deputy. He is Chaplain Emeritus of the Brownwood (TX) Police Department. Fair is a member of the Board of Scientific and Professional Advisors of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, and has written numerous articles on Chaplaincy and Traumatic Stress. Chaplain Fair is President of the American Association of Police Officers and President and CEO of Homeland Crisis Institute. A licensed peace officer, Chaplain Fair holds a Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling and Psychology from Bethel Bible College and Seminary, and a doctorate in Clinical Christian Counseling from Central Christian University. Dr. Fair is a member of the Curriculum Committee of the American Board of Certification in Homeland Security, as well as a member of the Commission on Forensic Education.

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