What do you do when you feel a little glum coming into holiday season? My answer is to throw myself into Santa and kindness mode. Instead of looking at facts like all my kids are in other parts of the world, I look at how to make the world a little softer and kinder for all the people I meet. And I mean everyone! A smile is free (even if you are not feeling it). Reading a name tag and addressing a clerk, cashier, business employee, car oil change guy, neighbor... with eye contact and using their name (if possible) is a way to make someone else's day brighter.
I will never forget a therapy session I did with a woman. She told me that the only thing that stopped her from a suicide attempt that week was the cashier at a store made a real effort to meet her eyes, to genuinely "see her," and tell her she hoped her week would go well. One chance crossing with a stranger helped her feel less isolated. The details are irrelevant. The point is that sometimes when we struggle, the right thing is to look at how we can make someone else's life better. Perhaps we will get lucky and someone will return the gift. Can you drop off cookies to someone? Can you surprise shovel a driveway near you? Can you smile at everyone in the store you are going to? Can you say hello to all occupants on an elevator ride? (That one freaks people out a bit). Can you call someone you haven't talked to in a while? Can you look for ways to connect rather than stay isolated?
For years my kids went to their dad's at Christmas. I volunteered many years in soup kitchens, or in my community rather than sit alone and feel pathetic and alone. I also sought out community gatherings for the straggling ones who needed a place to be. I, at time, was a straggling human. Connecting is our responsibility as a human. We are social beings and all need to belong. The challenge is doing it, EVEN when we don't feel like it. Events like the one pictured beside me are a huge amount of work, for a small financial return. What they bring me is immense pleasure at talking to people, at being "out" in the world, at feelings some connection to my community.