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Amy Grant’s melancholy Christmas

Carolyn Bolton

Christmas festivities are in full swing as friends deck the halls, queue up the Christmas music and spike the egg nog for the annual slew of holiday parties. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, as its uplifting message of hope energizes weary souls.

“At Christmas time, from the time I was in my early 20s, I felt like my creativity thrived at Christmas time,” Christian recording artist Amy Grant recently told an interviewer about “Tennessee Christmas,” her latest album. “There’s a cultural experience where, even if someone has never been to church, will raise a cold beer mug and sing ‘O Come, All ye Faithful.’ ”

For some, however, the holidays aren’t energizing but a reminder of the hole left by loved ones called home before their time — a reality the singer pays homage to in her new record rejected by the retail arm of the Southern Baptist Convention for allegedly not being Christian enough.

Perhaps the retailer had forgotten the biblical directive to mourn with those who mourn.

“I’ve recorded a lot of Christmas music, but I thought, what I haven’t done is to consider somebody that spends their holidays alone,” Grant said.

“I want to make a record for an audience of one. I want to tell one person ‘Merry Christmas’ and I want to be willing to sit there in the sadness, too.”

The songstress understands what many, including those at the Southern Baptist Convention, apparently fail to recognize: Grief isn’t the plague and, instead of withdrawing from those who grieve, Christians are called to draw up a chair and sit with those suffering the loss of a loved one or another difficult life circumstance.

Remember as you don your gay apparel this party season to also don a tender heart because underneath all the “ugly sweaters” this Christmas is someone whose story runs deeper than the bootstrapping smile on his or her face.

Be a shoulder to lean on, a sleeve to cry on and an ear to hear stories past and present. Connect those grieving with others experiencing similar heartache or who have similar life histories.

Above all, help drown out some of the loneliness this Christmas season.

Heartache is all around, whether it’s with the neighbor who lost her husband of more than 40 years; the friend experiencing her first Christmas since losing her sister; the Uber driver who less than a year ago lost his son to a congenital heart defect; the man who lost his fiancee in a car crash; the mother who lost her twin babies during a miscarriage.

Tap into the healing power of a simple conversation and make someone’s day by helping him or her recall precious memories.

Or, if you’re not sure what to say, take a line from one of Grant’s songs: “If you feel lonely, I feel it, too. If nobody said it, I’m wishing you ‘Merry Christmas.’ ”

Carolyn Bolton is a writer based in Alexandria, Va.

Twitter: @carbolton