“With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.”
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Alone for the holidays?
Thanksgiving is less than two days away now, marking the beginning of one of my favorite times of the year. But then again, I’m one of the lucky ones with a family. There are so many this time of year who aren’t so fortunate. So many this year will spend their holiday season on the outside looking in:
The elderly widower facing his first Thanksgiving alone. He’s never cooked before and will end up ordering a pre-cooked dinner from the grocer. But it won’t be the same. Perhaps he’ll fall asleep looking at his late wife’s picture and clutching her pillow, trying to recall the sound of her laugh, the smell of her hair. Trying to recapture the feeling of the days when he was Most Thankful.
The young couple down the street who can’t afford to make it home for the holidays. Perhaps a job brought them to town, or the desire for a new start. They’ll eventually be OK, but this first holiday will be hard as they suddenly realize how much miss their relatives, even the annoying ones.
The single woman in her apartment with nothing but her cats and houseplants for company. She’ll haunt the blogs on Thanksgiving, but there won’t be much traffic; the only ones with time to write will be those like her - the lonely and alone. Over her dinner-for-one she’ll silently observe that another year has ticked off the biological clock as couples her age mark the growth and latest achievement of their beautiful children. She’ll want to be happy for them, but it will be difficult, even as she chokes out a short comment of congratulations. Their togetherness is a knife in her heart. In them she sees the happiness that has eluded her.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being alone, if you want to be. I know a number of people who truly don’t seem to mind or even prefer it that way. But if being alone isn't your choice, isolation can be a painful thing made only more painful this time of year. The jagged edges of loneliness poke through, causing hurt. And no amount of public denial can’t file them down.
We all know someone like that, I think. They’re tucked away in our own communities but are especially prevalent in cyberspace, where they seek validation and love from strangers they fancy will grow to love them back.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Perhaps, like us, you’ll have extra food or room at the table to share with someone in your community. If nothing else, fix a plate of food and take it to them. Top it off by sending an email to someone far away, someone whose primary link to the outside world is through their Internet connection.
There’s no need for people to be lonely this time of year. Not if we all reach out. So do it. You’ll be glad you did.