This weekend, while many families gather and celebrate Christmas (or the holiday of your choice) with food, laughter, gifts and hugs, some people will be counting down the minutes until the final present is unwrapped and the last light is unplugged.
It’s no secret that the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and even into New Year’s) is a difficult time for many people. Maybe it’s the change in the weather (my friend Dean best described the bleakness here: Winter’s Exile). Maybe you miss someone. Maybe someone misses you. Maybe you’re waiting on someone. Maybe no one is waiting on you.
Maybe it’s any combination of things pushing you lower each day, forcing you to put on a smile as you try to fake it while everyone else is caught up being festive.
It can be overwhelming.
Personally, this stretch of the year can be rough, as I’ve seen relationships (including my marriage) come to an end during the holiday season. Even when I think back to great childhood Christmases, I inevitably think back to those sadder adult times, perhaps self-punishing for things I did wrong to contribute to the relationships’ downfall. I guess it’s not fair, or perhaps even healthy, to do this, but it’s my way of remembering to always try to improve myself in future relationships. Those who forget the past, they say, are doomed to repeat it, particularly when it comes to my dating.
I also miss my paternal grandparents this time of year, particularly my Papa Hall, whose birthday (as he always reminded us, repeatedly, throughout December) was Dec. 17. As a child (and even to this day), I found great pleasure in an old man getting excited about his upcoming birthday. Yeah, he most likely was putting on a big show to entertain us grandkids, but that’s what grandparents do.
I realize, though, that I’m one of the lucky ones. Yes, it can be a long December, but there is reason to believe (as Mr. Duritz once sang). I’ll get to surround myself with family and friends who lift me up each day.
Others might not get to feel that. At least they think that’s the case. To anyone reading this, be it at regular So … There I Was readers, Facebook friends or random strangers who stumbled across this blog, I offer this: if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please talk to someone. I swear to you, someone is out there, perhaps someone you don’t even realize cares, who will talk to you, who will remind you that you’re someone special in their life.
I hadn’t planned on writing today, but I was driving home from errands this morning, when Mavis Staples’ “You Are Not Alone” came on my iPod. It’s a song written by one of my favorites, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and the words are a reminder that love and friendship are out there, even in places you least expect it.
“You’re not alone
Every night, I stand in your place
Every tear on every face
Tastes the same
A broken dream, a broken heart
Isolated and afraid
Open up this is a raid
I wanna get it through to you
You’re not alone.”