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  • Writer's pictureCheryl C. Silvera

Bah, Humbug! Wretched are the Holidays—for some.

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Image: Two dogs looking out a window that is hung with a lighted holiday wreath tied with a red bow. Image by Unsplash.

Here comes the season! It is the season of families and friends getting together for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year Celebrations.

Replete with office parties and trips to the shopping malls with loved ones. And the media outlets shouting the glad tidings of shopping with friends, cheer, and social occasions.

But, not so happy are a few who brace themselves for a season of aloneness and loneliness, emphasized by the said same heralding mentioned above, minus the anticipation.

Loneliness is never more acutely felt than in this season. Happy faces and linked arms portrayed everywhere are seemingly gloating in their connectedness. The media portray the travel woes of millions with reports of how many millions will be traveling to see family and friends.

This is where quick-triggered-scripture-finding Christians usually whip out the Christian adage and are swift to exclaim, "you are never alone; God is with you!" The veracity of this statement cannot be denied. However, as in the story of the little girl, told to me by my aunt, a child while praying for a playmate was quoted that very same statement of not being alone by her mom— of God being with her—to which she replied—"yes, but I want some flesh on him!"

Accurate as this might be, we are admonished to seek those who need companionship at this season and tangibly offer friendship.

Reporting in Time Magazine, author Justin Worland shared in an article entitled, "Why Loneliness May Be the Next Big Public-Health Issue" dated March 18, 2015, that:

"The subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26%, according to the new study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Social isolation — or lacking social connection — and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person's health than feeling lonely, respectively increasing mortality risk by 29% and 32%." [1]

Admittedly, we cannot drive or fly miles to be with those we care for, but many avenues are open to us with a bit of creativity. Mercy meets form when we share in alleviating the aloneness and loneliness of friends and neighbors as surrogates for a biological family.

Isn't it ironic that in an era of global advancement in technology, we are still, literally, dying of loneliness!

'Kinship' is the most healing of medicines for a lonely soul. "A lack of close friends and an absence of broader social contact generally bring the emotional discomfort or distress known as loneliness. It begins with an awareness of a deficiency of relationships. This cognitive awareness plays through our brain with an emotional soundtrack. It makes us sad." [2]

It is an excellent practice to add a caveat to, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."[3] Follow up with "how are you today?" Quoting the scripture is not a substitute for going in all the world to tell of the love of God. That includes seeing a face and hearing a friendly voice, by whatever senses.

The art and practice of visitations seem to be a dying one in the Christian community. Administrative duties and self-care have all but obliterated the backbone of ministry. Hard to conceive was the day when cart and horse were used to traverse miles in harsh and unfriendly elements to reach the alone or hurting ones.

Now the challenge is, "where will I park?" "What is the crime like in your neighborhood?" Say that to yourself a few days a week, and soon you'll find yourself saying, "Oh, well, It's almost time for the services again. Maybe next time."

Consider fulfilling the call of God to be a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, and in considering your family as a refuge this holiday, because God sets the lonely in families.[4]

For those who have not yet made a connection with a church or fellowship group (at the risk of being a quick-triggered-scripture-finding Christian), I'll share with you what works for me. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."[5]

For you, as for myself, if no one will come, let us find someone this holiday to share a quick moment with them. In doing so, we may save ourselves from the statistics of high suicide during the holidays. Slowly we are to build our social skills.

"… we are built for social contact. There are serious—life-threatening—consequences when we don't get enough. We can't stay on track mentally. And we are compromised physically. Social skills are crucial for your health." [6]

At a funeral, I recently met a chaplain who was working the room handing out slips of paper to the attendees when I first observed him. He didn't stop long with each one. When it was my turn, I received my bit of paper and the proffered comfort of the message written, "Free Hug." I can't offer you a free hug, but I offer these words of cheer, "Jesus loves You!"

Now, go tell that to someone else, and you would have started a chain of connectivity.!

This updated article was first published by the author in 2015.

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