Hopefully by now all my fellow nontrads are enjoying some downtime from school - between-semester break or a week off for the holidays. I have always had family around me for the holidays, so I don't give much thought to being alone at the holidays or not liking the holidays. However, as I was perusing through some of the subjects on my homepage this morning, I ran across this headline, "Deaths Spike Around Holidays". A rather grim headline, I know. But it got me to thinking about some things.
As a nontrad, I have been traveling at warp speed since August. Now that I have had the chance to drop out of warp speed, I am forced to take a look at things around me. My house needs a good cleaning, I need to get together with some friends I have been neglecting because of school and I need to pay more attention to myself, especially in light of my recent divorce.
I could get rather maudlin and mopey because this year is different from last, but I chose not to. This year's Christmas will be better than last - I will be surrounded by all three of my children and their respective partners. That's a good thing.
But what about those people who do not have family and friends around them at the holidays? Or those who have experienced a recent loss due to death or divorce? Or those who are on shaky financial footing this year? How can we reach out to those in our nontrad community who are dealing with the "Holiday Blues"? Let's try a few things:
1. Extend an invitation to those people you know who will not be sharing this holiday with family and friends. I have asked my church pastor and several other people at church to keep their ears and eyes open for folks in my congregation who may not have a "home" for the holidays. I have extended an open invitation to them.
2. Volunteer at the local soup kitchen or food pantry. Your time will make someone else's life just a little bit better. Take some friends with you and make a day of volunteering. The more volunteers, the better.
3. Stay close to those who may be exhibiting signs of depression. Be a listening ear, a sturdy shoulder, a compassionate friend. Signs of depression can be found on websites like http://helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm. Encourage that person to seek help. Commit to accompany them when they go to get that help.
4. Check in with elderly friends and neighbors. Take them a nice Christmas ornament and some stationery with pre-stamped envelopes, or food for their pet, or just sit and listen to them share their stories.
5. Designate one day as a "Do Nothing" or a "Mental Health" day on the midst of all the holiday craziness. Sleep in, breathe deep, take a walk, play board games with your family, listen to your favorite Christmas CD. Don't worry about the dirty house or the overgrown backyard or the million and one other things that are calling your name. Sometimes we just need a day of a whole lot of nuthen.
Take this time to download, de-stress and disconnect. School will start back up soon enough - for you and the kids. Work will once again call your name in urgent, stressful tones. Take this time to invest in the most important things - your family, your friends, and yourself.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. And in the words of Tiny Tim, "May God bless us, every one!"