December is coming. The malls are bustling, tv advertisements are in full swing for holiday paraphernalia, and chocolate Advent calendars are about to be opened as the final push towards Christmas begins.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Except for those people for whom it’s not.
Holidays for some people means special treats, thoughtful gifts, time to enjoy friends and family and ushering in a new year with anticipation and hope.
Except for those people whose budgets can’t accommodate anything other than the usual fare, whose gift exchanges are simple or nonexistent, and who either don’t have time off work to enjoy family and friends – or who have no family or friends to enjoy. For some a new year means more of the same old, and that’s not always a good thing.
Christmas isn’t wonderful for everyone.
In my work as a therapist I often do my best to keep seeing clients over the holiday season, because in all reality this can be a difficult time of year, and lots of folks out there wish they could take a sleeping pill on December 1st and wake up in January.
The part that really tugs at my heart is how this season can be excruciating for people who don’t have close people – maybe parents have passed on, or relationships are tense. Maybe family is out of town or perhaps just toxic and not healthy to spend time with. Maybe friend making has been difficult, or perhaps close friends are busy with their own networks and unavailable to connect. Whatever the reason this time of connecting and celebrating and ringing in a new year with loved ones can be truly hellish for those who are on the periphery looking in.
If you are someone who relishes the holiday season, and is fortunate enough to enjoy traditions and celebrations that leave your hearts full – I am so glad this is your story, and I hope that your December is full and magical and that you can enjoy all the holiday traditions and trappings with your family and friends.
But if you’re someone who wants to wake up in January, know that my heart sorrows with you at the onset of a difficult season. I have known scores of lonely Christmas seasons myself, and remember the disappointment that December would bring. Know that, as I light candles on my mantle this season, that I will think of you – you who goes home alone, whose family is far away or disconnected, or who struggle with not being able to celebrate in a way that you dream of. Silent flickers will burn for you this season, honoring your struggle and serving as a reminder to me to make room for others at a time when it can be easy to huddle in and unintentionally box others out.
To those who love this season, would you consider doing the same? Find a way to remember those for whom this season is a struggle and explore ways to make room. Host a dinner, have folks over for games, go for a coffee, extend the table to include the co-worker, neighbor, or distant relative who may not have a place to belong this season. Help out the family next door with groceries, or tuck a toy in your kids’ backpack for a buddy at school who you know may not get much under the tree.
If you are fortunate enough to love this season, let’s see if we can figure out how to pass some of this goodness on.