I really struggled with finding the right tone for this post, fearing hyper sentimentality, offensive chastisements or a thinly-veiled projection of my own feelings of vulnerability. Really, what I want to do is to find ways to bridge the gap for those reluctant to reach out.
Not to belabor the obvious, but many are struggling these days. Our economic woes may affect us both physically and emotionally. What more depressing notion, for example, than to be turned out of your home just prior to the holidays, be unable to afford gifts for your children, or even be able to put a Thanksgiving feast on the table? To paraphrase a Chinese proverb, when life is going well, you may have a few problems, but when you have no food, you only have one problem.
Yes, there are charities and food banks and soup kitchens, but with so many people struggling with poverty, perhaps for the first time, taking advantage of these services may feel humiliating , and that feeling may keep many away. Besides, it might be pretty hard to gather the family around to give thanks when you feel as though you have failed as a provider. I believe we have paid too little attention to the emotional fallout of our recent economic decline.
Perhaps someone is forced to make the tough cuts in their budget, making it impossible for them to fly home for the holidays, and they will be alone, possibly for the first time. I have spent several holidays alone, and the first time you have to face it, you may feel like it’s the end of the world. I did. If that’s you this year, my best advice is to do whatever you have to do…and I do mean whatever…in order to get through it. If that means you simply regain consciousness on the other side, far be it from me to judge. Or, you can do what I’ve done, and make a holiday just for yourself. This can include decorations, a special meal, and yes…even gifts. Hey, if I don’t take care of myself, who will? This year I’ll be alone for Thanksgiving, and I have big plans. You may think that’s pathetic, but if anyone out there has survived it, then you may have some important advice to impart. Comment here and share your own tips for coping with tough holiday times.
Posted below are some links to past holiday related articles that I hope prove useful to anyone seeking ways to reach out and lift the spirits of struggling friends, family members, or neighbors. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Share your story of hardship and healing, give us the gift of you.
Oh, and happy Thanksgiving!