Friday, December 25, 2009

Reaching out to others will help those depressed about missing family members cope with the holidays

     It's been 32 years since I first spent a Christmas away from home.  I was a young airman stationed in Guam, and I never forgot that my holiday weekend was filled with playing on the beach as well as spending some time with friends from the Catholic chapel community.
      Today, as I write this, I am in Miami with my wife and my son to visit my 84-year-old father-in-law, who is in a nursing home after a recent trip to the hospital for internal bleeding.  My oldest step daughter is in Utah and my youngest is in Wyoming.
      For many of us, the separation from our family is a difficult thing.   So, for those of you who are feeling a little depressed about missing family members this Christmas, I have a simple suggestion or two.
     First, if you are hosting a dinner or party today, reach out to those without family.  It could be the single mother next door with the two children or the office worker who has a family in Nebraska.   Having some extra people around to share in a holiday dinner will make you forget that your daughter is a time zone away.
     Second, volunteer to help those in need.   If you have a beautiful voice like my wife, you can visit a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols.  If your voice is not well suited for music, just taking the time to visit people is something that's appreciated.    Shelters and food kitchens can also use the help of volunteers, especially during the holidays.
      To me, Christmas is like that classic Crosby, Nash and Young song "Love the One You're With."  As the famed Woodstock crooners wrote:  "And if you can't be with the one you love...Love the one you're with...Love the one you're with..."   
      Here's hoping that everyone finds a little love and some family this holidays.