Today is Christmas Day. Most of the Western world is opening presents and celebrating being with family. Some of us are of other faiths and we choose not to do that. And some of us can’t because we’re isolated from family and friends in some way. Distance, poverty, mental illness, physical disability, age, a feeling of being a “black sheep;” these things often create a barrier between us and those who love us; or those who should.
It’s actually a myth that there are more suicides at this time of year than any other time of year. That’s actually around the Vernal Equinox. But it’s still a high-risk time. The reason why is that when you see so many others celebrating togetherness around you, it makes you feel more alone. You are reminded of the things you don’t have and you are likely to feel more depressed because you don’t have them. Economic upswings can have the same effect on those who do not benefit from them, for example.
I’m mentioning this because maybe, like me, you have already had your Solstice gathering and you don’t really have anything to do on Christmas Day. So maybe you’ve got the time to reach out to someone else who might need it. Maybe you’ve got a couple of hours to go down and help out at your local shelter; or better yet, buy a sandwich or a turkey dinner at Denny’s for the town drunk in front of the liquor store. Maybe there’s a family weirdo you haven’t talked to in eight years. Maybe you sing well and you could go down to the local care facility or up to the psych ward and sing a few carols with those who can join you. Maybe you know some elderly person who lives alone on your street and maybe you can stop by with a poinsettia and a small ham to share.
I’ll caution that it’s a delicate balance. If you’re doing it out of pity and charity, your offer will most certainly be refused because people resent pity and charity. And your offer might be refused anyway. But if you do it out of a genuine desire to be a friend to another human being, that act of kindness might change a life; or at least brighten it for a while.
And if you are that lonely person because you’re the black sheep of the family (which I have been,) maybe you should stop by the shelter or the coffee shop or the local Denny’s and get a meal with others who are lonely over the holidays, because hard as it sometimes is to remember in this world of distrust, we are all human beings, and simply being in each others’ company for a while can be a good thing.
I hope your holiday is beautiful and filled with friends, and I wish you all the best in 2015!