In the midst of the hectic preparation for Christmas and then in the merriment of the holiday, we should all take the time to remember how difficult this season can be for some among us. When everyone is traveling to be with family, being alone is even harder to bear. Advice often given to lonely people dreading the coming festivities is to reach out to others or to volunteer and get involved, but, while it’s easy advice to give, it’s not so easy to follow. Reaching out is difficult for lonely people. Asking for help almost impossible. Often they think they have nothing to offer anyone and can be of no value so they don’t see a point in volunteering. For the troubled of mind, holidays are even more difficult than the rest of their lives. Everything from gift giving to family to festive activities and the intensity of the holiday atmosphere magnifies the torment in their own mind.
For our military men and women, being far from home and family makes their sacrifice that much greater. For the defenders of our country, not spending time with their families, not seeing the wonder of the holiday in their children’s eyes is hard enough. Add to that the danger they live with every day and it’s hard to relax and enjoy gifts and cards from home, even when there are holiday packages to open. For the families left behind, the fact that their husband, father, son, wife, mother or daughter is missing and serving far from home leaves a hole that is hard to ignore and harder yet to celebrate around. Children, excited about the coming of Santa still cry themselves to sleep when Mommy or Daddy isn’t there, too.
The homeless are always bereft and alone, but with wreaths hanging on every door and lights twinkling all over town, the gaiety of shoppers and carolers isolates those who have nothing even more. Soup kitchens sometimes offer a holiday meal, but it’s not the same as being surrounded by the warmth and love of family in a place you can call home. Even when you have a home, many are scraping by, just barely able to support themselves and their children. It’s disappointing for a child to discover that Santa didn’t bring the one thing they yearned for most, even if there is a tree. And for the parents who wish so desperately to give their child the gift they treasure, the ache in their hearts when they cannot must be vast.
Hospitals are places of incredible healing and undoubted miracles, but they are also places of pain, anguish, and dying. Unless you’re on the maternity ward celebrating the birth of a new life, being in the hospital over the holidays means serious illness for the patients, their families, and those who care for them.
So, please, in the midst of your celebrations, take a moment to think of all those less fortunate than you. If you pray, pray for peace and healing and comfort. If you are financially able, share some of your bounty with others who have so little. Write a letter to a soldier, visit a shut-in, take cookies to someone who is lonely. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make someone else’s Christmas happier?” Then do it.
From my heart, I wish you all a wonderful holiday and a prosperous and happy new year. I ask God’s blessing on you and yours on this day and all year through.