“Helping a person will not necessarily change the world, but it will change the world for that person.”
Holidays can be blessed events when we are surrounded by loving family and friends, but we are not always fortunate in this way.
For those who may be without a love mate, an approaching holiday only tends to underscore the stark reality of one’s “aloneness.”
I happen to know firsthand that coping with a holiday during the first year of bereavement is often the hardest and the worst.
In fact, with each passing year I always recall how I handled my own widowhood more than twenty years ago.
With the determination to beat those dark depressing holiday blues and not end up all by myself on Christmas Day, I took matters into my own hands that year and invited friends to my house instead.
Almost instantly, I had something fun and enjoyable to look forward to, which helped snap me out of my gloomy doldrums like a charm.
After all, eight people were now depending upon me to roast the turkey, prepare a festive meal, and show them a good time.
I also recall how the more I busied myself with cooking baking, cleaning, polishing my silver, and decorating the table with place cards, colorful ornaments, sprigs of holly, and candles, the more I forgot my initial feelings of grief and loss.
In fact, as the days moved on, I became so absorbed and distracted by my new responsibilities that my personal melancholy gradually became lighter and lighter. And before I knew it, Christmas had come and gone.
I had survived.
It is very easy for adults over fifty to feel abandoned by children or grandchildren who make holiday plans—such as travel—which don’t include them, and to consequently fall prone to depression, hopelessness, despair, and even thoughts of suicide.
In fact, family counselors report that their caseloads are the heaviest during holiday seasons because so many people are catapulted into crisis by memories of loved ones from the past.
So just in case you happen to be facing the holiday alone, I would urge you to seek out others who might benefit from your invitation before that day arrives so that you have something purposeful to look forward to.
And if that doesn’t work out, I would urge you to keep your eyes open for a local charity which prepares holiday meals where you can volunteer to help cook, serve, or deliver food to those who are poor, ill, alone, or low on resources.
If nothing else, there are always countless patients in hospitals and skilled nursing homes who would love to have a visitor stop in to brighten their day by offering to sing, talk, or read to them—not to mention bring them the unexpected surprise of a small gift or holiday ornament.
By brightening someone else’s day, we invariably brighten our own, don’t we?
In fact, whenever we spread joy and cheer to someone else we usually invite profound and unexpected blessings into our own midst. And by extending love to someone who is struggling to overcome the sadness of holiday blues, we can give the greatest gifts of all—friendship, compassion, acceptance, and an open heart.
“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.” Kathy Calvin
So happy holidays to everyone this season, and may all your dreams for your life come true!