During the holiday season there is a mixture of varying emotions. There are many who are caught up in the holiday decorations, music, gift giving and receiving , Santa Claus, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Jesus’s birth celebration, and of course New Years Day.
Depending on our religious or spiritual preferences why do we love Christmas or the corresponding celebrations ? This is the time of year when families get together to share a meal, presents or memories of past Christmases and make new ones. Parents and grandparents get to visit with their children and grandchildren who may live far away during the year. Children are eagerly anticipating Christmas morning and the presents.
There are parties with friends, coworkers, neighbors and family to look forward to. Sometimes those gathered for these occasions have little or nothing in common. Yet they get together hopefully to laugh, eat, drink and just share time with others to have fun and celebrate.
What are some of the benefits of Christmas? Is it a chance to briefly leave the pain or stress of life behind; to recharge ourselves; to let our inner child come out for a while; to just remember Christmases past; to relish the pure joy of watching our children or grandchildren be excited about the celebration; or to celebrate Jesus’s birthday?
For some, the warm feelings of donating gifts or helping others gives us a similar if not greater joy. There are always children or teens or adults who need help, presents, food, or just some company. If you don’t have family, make a family or at least contribute to the holidays of others .
After the meals and cookies and pies are eaten and the presents packed to take home, there may be a letdown for some. Everyone has gone home, no parties until New Year’s Eve; the surprise of wrapped packages waiting has disappeared with the torn paper and ribbons. The music has stopped. The excitement has departed with a dull buzz and we are tired but hopefully content that everyone had a good time together.
What is there to look forward to now? Yes, there is the first of the New Year that follows with fireworks and more parties. But then what? We start our new year with resolutions of changes, improvements, ambition to accomplish some goal. But soon our resolutions become fuzzy in our memories and other things take their place. Often we just go back to the same routine.
Sometimes the pain or burden is just too great for some to donate or participate in any joyous activities. For many it is unrealistic to expect them to leave their pain, memories, or illness behind during the festivities.
Tragically there are many who are suffering painful memories, depression, catastrophic losses, diseases, emotional and physical pain. Some people reach such a level of total depression and hopelessness that they contemplate or commit suicide. Many of us have had at least one if not more of these difficult times during our lives.
This holiday season please remember those who are depressed, have lost their homes to fires, floods, chronic illness, the economy, or loss of a job. Remember those who have to celebrate the holidays in the hospital with a loved one or as a patient. Remember those who have lost dear ones. Offer a prayer, send positive energy, or a wish for their lives to improve and that their hearts will soon heal.
Better still when and if you are able, donate money, items, toys, your time to whatever worthy cause is close to your heart. Call someone you know who is hurting and tell them you would like to visit and see if they could use a patient, loving friend to just listen to their problems or just sit in silence if they prefer. Sometimes having a compassionate friend to listen to their expressions of pain and grief may offer some release of their suffering.
Sometimes we don’t know what to say for those who are suffering. The important thing is that you call and let them do the talking if they want to. If they don’t want to talk about their problems then just tell them you were thinking about them and wanted to let them know you cared or you were praying for them. You may also ask them if they have any beautiful of good memories they might want to share.
Sometimes just those kinds of compassionate words can mean so much. But don’t make just one call. Call back and check on them periodically. You never know what a simple offering of concern can mean to someone. Love your neighbor.
For those who have suffered grief, pain or severe loss please seek help. Sometimes you may feel hopeless but there are many organizations who offer help of different kinds. There are also many churches who truly have a compassionate heart who help those in need.
For those considering suicide, don’t give up! There is a national suicide hot line where you can talk with someone who can offer support or help at 1-800-273-8255. There is also help for Domestic Violence: 800-799-7233 (SAFE). So many other lines can be found on the internet for those who need counseling or help for many different problems.
Take care of yourself, take care of your family, your friends and neighbors. Give what you can when you can. If you can’t give or donate, then pray for or call a friend you know may be suffering. You won’t regret it.
Remember that we all could be unsuspecting victims of a major catastrophic problem that could wreck our lives just as so many others have. Each day with our loved ones is precious. Be sure to enjoy the family, home, friends, and love that we can share with our families now.