Thoughts by Richard Bleil
A week ago (if this posts as scheduled) on my social media page, I wrote “Thanksgiving is two days away. For my Christmas friends, hold…hold…hooolllddd…” I typically play the Grinch for my friends, but only on T.V. Okay, spoofing an old commercial there. The reality is that I actually like the holidays, but I tend to enjoy all of them. It does kind of drive me crazy that Christmas seems to be encroaching on and consuming so many of them. One of the problems this causes is absolute and total Christmas burn-out by the end of the season. Come New Year’s Eve, all anybody wants to do is collapse and recover from Christmas.
I don’t enjoy the holidays as much as, I’m sure, most, simply because I spend them alone. I don’t have family, children, and the friends who invite me to join them I resist because I know that I’ll be blue and don’t want to infect their holidays with my malaise. I have had a few opportunities to enjoy the holidays with a child (or two), and it’s marvelous, magical, and completely different from my typical holidays. Typically I get to see all of the warm family fun and gatherings as reminders that I’ll be having a duck on Thanksgiving alone save my cats. Who will be desperately trying to get their paws on my duckling. Okay, they’ll get a taste, but they’ll want the entire thing. I just got an image of Star with her head stuck in the duckling body cavity, which is making me laugh, but not something I’d like to actually see. I have some Prosciutto and cheese as a special treat sometime in the holidays for myself, but nobody with whom to share it, and sparkling cider because I really don’t like alcohol, but how could I have forgotten the olives? Well, maybe I’ll grab some tomorrow.
That’s my Thanksgiving. If I had a family, it would be a very different affair altogether. (It would be a very different affair. Sorry, paraphrasing a movie joke there.) For example, I think I would leave the tree down until after Thanksgiving dinner. I could see that as a fun family activity (replacing the early Black Friday nonsense). After a bit of time to let the dinner settle, put up the tree and begin decorating it as a family as a tradition and way for the family to interact. Wouldn’t that be marvelous? Instead, I have a ceramic tree my friend gave me that I might get out of the closet and that’ll be my Christmas decoration. And Christmas? Maybe I’ll just go to the zoo. The one and only day that it is closed each year is Christmas day (they say by law), so the crowds will be small, and if I get arrested then I won’t have to spend Christmas alone.
Unfortunately, this is reality for far too many of us who face an annual holiday choice between isolation or surrender. For many years, I caved to pressure to go somewhere and be the third wheel at some holiday celebration, but today I won’t do it. It’s not fun spending the holidays alone, but its better than spending them feeling out of place. My holiday celebrations may not be much, but they’re mine, and I try to do at least something a little bit special for myself. I bought a new gun and have spent time at the range and will likely go to the zoo (not actually on Christmas) to be with my thoughts, and I’ll have duckling and sparkling cider with my feline family, and that’ll be enough for me.
Actually, by the time you read this, I’ve already done that for Thanksgiving. Christmas is next, and I’ll probably spend it playing a hack and slash video game to keep my mind off of memories of Christmas Horrors of the Past. As a reminder, if you know somebody like me, suffering from depression, lonely and isolated, please do invite them to your holidays, but don’t push, and don’t be offended if they politely decline. Let it be okay if they want to be alone. Just letting them know that they are welcome will go a long way but pushing will just make it worse. Who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise you and they’ll show up after all, but if not, keep in touch and ask them how their Christmas was. If you are like me, one of the lonely who will spend your holidays alone, that’s really okay. There are many like us, just trying to get along wrestling with our own issues. Let it be okay, because it really is.