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reposting this from 5 years ago as we enter the holiday season
This time of year for many is one of joy and happiness-a season to spend with family and friends sharing the pageantry and fellowship –Peace on Earth to men of good will. The lights twinkle on the tree, the presents underneath it await the excited children who finally fell asleep so that Santa could make his nocturnal visit, and the smell of baked goods and meats wafting throughout the house. Folks who may be at odds with others in their family somehow put aside those differences for just one day to celebrate the holiday.
For others, however, the season is not so jolly. There can be a variety of reasons that, for some people, this time of year can be a time of loneliness and depression. Some have lost loved ones recently and are spending their first holiday without them. I know that from personal experience, it can be extremely emotional in those circumstances as I felt that angst in my own soul in three different years -2004 when my dad passed, 2011 when my mom passed and 2012 when both of my brothers passed. Long-lived traditions can be both a help and hindrance in these situations. They can remind you of the ties that bind the generations together linking our childhood and adult lives to our own kids. But they can also bring to mind the loss of our loved ones causing the pain of that loss-which may have previously diminished to a few dying embers-to roar back into full flame overwhelming us with grief over those no longer physically present with us.
Similar feelings may occur due to a divorce or to a family member who is in the twilight of life who may be celebrating their last Christmas with us. I know that was the case with my mom who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2011 giving us the knowledge that we would have only that one last holiday with her. Each moment and each tradition was precious as things never remain the same once the loved one passes.
Others have clinical issues such as the aptly “acronymed” SAD-Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those with this condition actually incur physical and emotional distress due to the diminished amount of daylight and concurrent feeling of isolation from the world. This can be particularly difficult for those who live alone-without family members or friends in the home or nearby. Adding to that any kind of physical illness or infirmity can lead to an overwhelming loneliness and despair. And of course for those like us who are often hiding a part of who we are from the world, the dissociation and isolation can be even worse.
So the question becomes-what can I do to help those who are struggling with the season? For years and years growing up and even into adulthood, Christmas had been a time of giving and receiving presents. Some were practical, others fanciful, but usually they were tangible items designed to bring a smile to the faces of children and adults alike. After my parents passed, we discovered that it was difficult financially to maintain the amount of gift exchanging that we had always done in the past and that somehow the true spirit of the holidays had been lost in the commercial side of Christmas. While Christmas is by its nature a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ, the ultimate gift—its principles transcend the origins of the faith in which it began. The true spirit of Christmas is giving of ourselves and our time. We can invite those who we know are alone on these holidays to join in our own family celebrations. OR we can go to the homes of shut-ins sharing food and company. OR we can give of our time and money to the many charities that help those in need in our cities and towns. As simple a thing as wishing a Merry Christmas to someone you see who seems down in the dumps may be the thing that makes someone realize that they have a reason to go on.
Though it is difficult to do from a distance since our community is spread out throughout the world, I tried last year and am going to do my best this year as well to be online in the public chat area for as much of Christmas Eve late evening (after 10-11 pm US EST) and some on Christmas Day(subject to my plans to be in my own family celebration Christmas afternoon/evening (2-9 pm US EST on the 25th). I invite each of you to come spend as much time as you can spare from your own celebrations to greet and chat with your fellow members. And for those who don’t have friends or family close by, please join me in hostessing and keeping the chat going for as long as we can!
Cyn (aka Santa’s helper)
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