Although 2020 has been an exceptional year, and not necessarily in a good way, the holiday season continues to be a source of insta-joy for most of us. A time when holiday lights, festive music, and love-filled Hallmark movies run from late October through December. It is also a time when memories of happy times from our past bubble up to remind us of family and good friends.
For some, the holiday season can be a sad, overwhelming time. A time when they are feeling alone (even if they may not be). For some, like me, who have lost our parents, and/or our significant others, the holidays can be anything but festive.
For me, when my mother passed away, the holidays just weren’t anymore. My mom was the center of our family. After she passed away my father slipped deeper into the dark and terrifying world of Alzheimer’s. I felt very alone. I stopped ‘celebrating’. I uttered the words ‘Happy Holidays’ to others but could not describe what that meant anymore.
My bestie and I, who is also alone for the holidays because his parents have also passed away, typically go out to dinner on Thanksgiving, during the December holiday season, and on New Year’s. At that time when going out was a thing (pre-COVID), we went out with abandon.
One holiday season I decided to put an ad on Craigslist.org and invited others who were also alone during the holidays to join us for dinner. To me, it was just dinner. The idea of breaking bread with a stranger did not seem awkward in the least. And, you know what? It wasn’t. We have met some really interesting people over the years who have joined us for a holiday meal. We talk about work, family, our hobbies, our family traditions during the holidays, and our fave football team. We connect.
After the meal we go our way, they go theirs. We have encouraged folks to keep in touch. Some have. Some have not. But they have all done one thing without fail. They have all thanked us profusely for allowing them to spend time with someone during the holidays. We certainly do not need thanks. We were going to go out anyway, but it is amazing how a simple gesture of inviting someone to spend a little time in the company of others during a time that can be sad for some can mean so much. That knowledge warms our hearts.
There is an adage that says, in effect, that if you want to make friends and not be alone, you have to ‘first show yourself friendly’. I interpret that as, you have to put yourself out there to meet potential friends, even if it is just for dinner. You may not make a lasting friendship, but at least you have related to someone, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
This year, RPSV’s Facing and Overcoming Loneliness virtual group is hosting a Thanksgiving get-together…just because. Individuals who are alone (or even if you aren’t), are welcome to join us. We just plan to talk, laugh, share, listen to music, and shake off the potential desire to feel sad during what should be a very special time of year.
Now more than ever, with the advent of COVID-19, many of us are feeling sad and alone due to social distancing and all its facets. One-third of Americans are now clinically anxious or depressed due to the pandemic. If you are feeling lonely at this time of year, know you are not the only one!
We invite you to ring in the holidays with Facing and Overcoming Loneliness! Join us on November 26 at 2 pm to meet some new friends and make fun memories!
PS We will also be hosting events on December 24 and 25. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Stay happy and safe!