Dear Annie: Whenever Christmas rolls around, I feel sick. I want to enjoy the merriment as much as most people seem to. Unfortunately, I have negative associations with the winter holidays. I’m sure I’m not alone in dreading Christmas. How can I put these associations aside in order to have a happy holiday season?

—Cringing at Christmas

Dear Cringing at Christmas: It sounds as though it’s not Christmas you’re cringing at so much as the unresolved emotions it brings up for you. It’s also possible that you’re experiencing seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that affects an estimated 3 million Americans each year. Either way, counseling could be a hugely beneficial tool for exploring, processing and, one hopes, moving past these negative associations.

Dear Annie: This is in response to “Grieving Mom,” the mother who received a letter from a woman who is alive because of an organ donation from “Grieving Mom’s” son who tragically died.

My husband died while riding his bicycle three years ago. We donated his organs because that’s what he had indicated he wanted. Later, I received a note from someone who had gotten a tendon from him, thanking us for making this hard decision. We were so grateful to get that letter, knowing that maybe someone else could now ride a bike or be able to walk or function normally.

My heart aches for “Grieving Mom,” but I know that the recipient of the organ was just trying to express her gratitude to that mother for giving her some more time. I hope that one day, “Grieving Mom” can accept the offering of gratitude.

 — Aching Heart

Dear Aching Heart: I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your experience and offering some heartfelt perspective.

Dear Annie: This is a response to “Grieving Mom.” I lost my 31-year-old son to a drunken driver last year. My son was riding his bicycle cross-country. With no hesitation, our family donated every part of his beautiful body so that others could have better lives. Greg would have wanted that. My point of this letter is to highlight how we all have different responses to tragic losses. Whereas “Grieving Mom” wants no contact with the recipient of her son’s heart and is appalled that the receiver reached out to her, I would embrace the chance to hug the individual who has my son’s heart beating in his or her body.  — Barry

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