The signs of the season are all around us. For most of us, it's about joy and happiness; but not everyone is always in the holiday spirit.

The reasons can vary. The recent loss of a loved or an anniversary could be an uncomfortable reminder. 

Religious organizations are recognizing that, while it's a time for celebration for most, a different kind of observance may be more appropriate for others.

On Thursday at 7 p.m. St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Anchorage offers a Blue Christmas service. The church is a Christian community and Blue Christmas has long been celebrated by some Christians in the west as the longest night of the year.

Thursday's gathering is being advertised as "a service of hope and comfort." It's non-judgmental and non-denominational. All are welcome regardless of where they are mentally and spiritually. There will be poetry, along with quiet, gentle music and prayer. 

"We are gathering together to know that in the darkness there is always light," said Rev. Catherine Amy Kropp, an associate rector at St. Mary's.

Here, faith and hope are common bonds. 

"It's important to know that can you gather together and rest and know that we are all part of something and part of a community that is a journey together," she said.

This church and others in the area have been doing these services for a few years. Kropp doesn't know how many people will attend, but it's not about the number of people in the pews; it's about the quality of time spent by those who are there.  

"For those who are carrying recent memories or carrying long-term memories, the holidays often bring those up as they yearn for those they love," she noted. "And the celebration of the season can be an energy that doesn't match with what's in your heart."

It happens more often than people may know, especially since these moments can be their strongest at the same times every year.

"I think that's quite common to feel a little out of sync with the world around you. And so this service is an opportunity to just come and be as your are," Kropp said.

It may be a personal journey, but being among a group can also help. 

"As you are feeling, you're okay. And there are others who are reaching out to you and caring, carrying part of your burden together," she added. 

After all, help can come in unlikely places.  

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