I admit that I am one of the millions of Americans who does not relish the holiday season. Much of my humbug position for the jingling bells and red-nosed reindeer comes from the financial pressure I’ve watched people put themselves under from Black Friday through early January. More disheartening is the loss of meaning for the season – the birth of Jesus, the Christ, and benign neglect of the dispossessed, lonely, troubled, and suffering. Still, I’ve always gone through the rigamarole of family gatherings over lavish meals, Spades, film watching, and lots of laughter. Those things notwithstanding, this year posed a particularly emotional one, as the loss of two senior family members made the thought of gathering to celebrate nearly unbearable.
For the first time, the absence of loved ones made the importance of the holidays, dull – and the most comforting thought for my immediate family was to retire to our respective homes, pull our duvets over our heads, and shelter in place. Fortunately, some much needed insight and counsel from Matthews Memorial Baptist churchgoers forced me into a lock-step pattern of remembering those who’d transitioned and how they would expect me to carry on. Live well, serve others, and remember those who have passed, fondly.
So, this year, with the absence of my aunt, Henrietta Murry and father, McKinley Clark, both who lived abundant lives until their mid-80s, I took on the services of others by cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Now, those of you who know me understand the risks to both others and myself, which this involved. Still, my desire not to fail meant planning, prepping, creating, and hosting a full meal – without sending anyone to the emergency room.
Fortunately, all are well, and I have passed the litmus test, giving me ongoing access to the kitchen for cooking purposes. (Yes, I am serious… I had been barred until recently.) This Christmas, we will all serve a local shelter to give and receive the care we need.
While the grieving process is an ongoing one that will make holidays tender for years to come, others, like students already stressed by final exams and research papers unable to travel home for the holidays, elders living away from loved ones, those living in transitional housing or on the streets, and those feeling vulnerable due to financial or social pressures, need the support of the communities around them.
Beating the Blahs, A Quick Guide to Guarding Your Mental & Emotional Health During the Holidays addresses a few of the concerns our readers may feel too vulnerable to discuss with family or friends. Feelings of loneliness during the holidays are increasingly common. Let’s work to serve others in order to heal. Please utilize this supplement as a lock-step to 1) know that what you’re feeling is normal, 2) you are not alone; and 3) support is available and plentiful.
Read, Grow, Enjoy.