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Free classes aid with holiday sadness

Licensed therapist and Covington First UMC member Dr. Cindy Elrod will lead a series of classes, called Holiday Blues, designed to help those who are struggle with sadness during the holiday season.

Licensed therapist and Covington First UMC member Dr. Cindy Elrod will lead a series of classes, called Holiday Blues, designed to help those who are struggle with sadness during the holiday season.

The song might be promising "Santa's on his way," but for some people, instead of happiness, the blues arrive during the holiday season. Whether it is the loss of a friend or loved one, the loss of a job, financial burdens or a general feeling of sadness or depression, the holidays can be a troublesome time for many.

As a way to help people get through this time of year when they might be feeling a sense of loss while everyone else around them is merry and bright, Covington First United Methodist Church is offering a free series of programs called Holiday Blues.

Led by licensed therapist and Covington First UMC member Dr. Cindy Elrod, the Holiday Blues classes are free and open to the community.

"Holiday blues are a common fact of life this time of year as well as other times of the year," Elrod said. "It's important for folks to see they're not alone. We can come together as a community, hear our stories and be with others. It's easier to get through things and they might even find some healing."

The first classes will be on Sunday and Nov. 18, right before the Thanksgiving holiday. The next set of classes is offered Dec. 9 and 16, just prior to Christmas. A third series will be offered Jan. 13 and 20, as people prepare to face a new year. Each session begins at 4:30 p.m.

"Although the holidays are happy, they remind us of our losses, a lost job or a relationship that didn't work out," Covington First UMC Associate Pastor Jan McCoy said. "The holidays (serve as a) magnifying glass on things that have happened throughout the year that caused us to have pain."

McCoy said this is the first time the church has offered this particular series of classes and she hopes members of the community will take part in Holiday Blues to help them through the holidays.

Elrod, who works with Caring Counseling Centers of Georgia and does counseling in Rockdale and Newton counties, will begin the program in an informal setting and get to know those in attendance as she learns about their needs. McCoy said Elrod will tailor the sessions to fit the needs of its participants.

In conjunction with the Holiday Blues classes, the church will also offer a Longest Night Service, a service for those who have experienced loss.

"It will be a service offering hope and comfort to anyone who has experienced loss throughout the year," McCoy said. "It is open to the community and other churches are involved with us in this too."

McCoy explained the Longest Night Service, which will take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 16, will be a "normal worship service with normal songs."

"It will take the emphasis off that feeling of hurt during Christmas -- that feeling we've lost something and can't celebrate like others do," she said. "... Even though we have had our losses, we still have a lot to celebrate. This gives voice to that."

The Holiday Blues and Longest Night Service are free and open to the community. Both will be held at Covington First UMC, which is located at 1113 Conyers St. in Covington. Anyone interested in participating in the Holiday Blues program is asked to register by calling 770-786-7305.

Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Loganville, Ga. If you have a story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com.