Around the Bluhmin’ Town
The Season of Joy has arrived. The holidays are festive and beautiful, centered around family, friends and gatherings. They highlight love, marriage, personal relationships, and children. Every day there are constant reminders of how lovely tree shopping, decorating, baking, dining, gift giving, and intimacy can be. But for many, this time of year also ushers in loneliness, isolation, and melancholy.
We might remember the large parties, big dinners, and the house filled with family. Children and grandkids grow up, move across the country. Parents and grandparents pass away. The hustle and bustle of the holidays might be replaced by quiet contemplation, reliving days gone by and trying to “make it through” the season instead of embracing it.
Social media and television commercials paint the picture of families doing “holiday” activities together. Then there are the extravagant gifts. Most of us won’t be getting new cars topped with red bows or huge diamonds as a token of true love. We may not have kids unwrapping presents or carolers gracing our doorways. Not everyone will have or ever had a Christmas out of a Hallmark movie.
In 2020, approximately 70 percent of Americans claimed they felt lonely and depressed over the holidays. Covid restrictions had much to do with that statistic. Yet, now in a recent survey, it seems that about forty percent find the holidays more stressful than joyful, and loneliness affects almost half of adults. Some psychologists call it the “winter blues” and researchers claim it affects seniors disproportionately.
The most wonderful time of year is challenging for many. What can we do to feel less isolated and maybe find more joy? Giving of time, effort and kindness seem to be the pillars of hope. With so many charities, churches and organizations needing assistance, this might be the opportunity to think about our contribution to making this the most “magical” season of all.
Staying connected to the world, finding a purpose or fulfilment, altering expectations, and trying to adapt to life’s ever-changing circumstances seems to help. My mother still baked copious amounts of cookies at the nursing home, gathering “any able residents” to help. She commandeered the kitchen and made over a thousand cookies for disadvantaged children. When I asked her why she didn’t slow down (she was 96) she chuckled and said, “Because I still can make a difference. I can offer something to kids who might want delicious home-made cookies.”
And so it goes. Life keeps moving and won’t stop for the holidays. But we can pause and consider how we might create our own sort of wonderful. It is best not to compare our experiences to anyone else or continually replay memories that we can’t duplicate.
Generosity has no age limit. Small efforts matter. Pay if forward at the line at the coffee shop. Volunteer at the local shelter, nursing home, youth club or food bank. Donate what you can. Write cards to our men and women who are serving in the military and are away from home. Bake cookies. Eat them.
Maybe it’s not just a Season, but “the reason” to bring comfort and joy.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected] or visit www.aroundthebluhmintown.com.