Being authentic, available during holidays

Published 7:29 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2023

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In December 2022 I wrote a column around what it is like for those struggling to feel joyful during the holiday season. Coverage of community events has me already full to overflowing with the holiday spirit, but I am still reminded of the many who may be feeling less than cheerful this year.

Many in our communities have suffered the loss of a loved one, experienced job loss, witnessed the breakup of a marriage or felt grief over a wayward family member. Life’s challenges still come our way, even during the holidays, and I am reminded that we can be the one to lift the burdens of those around us and to let them know there is hope for brighter days ahead.

Some may ask, “What can I do to help?” We can start by simply being available.

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Often those struggling with life’s challenges don’t need someone to make it all better. Sometimes a listening ear is all that’s needed. We can ask, “Are you okay?” Then, we can listen patiently while letting that person know that sometimes it’s okay not to be okay.

We can, of course, encourage people experiencing the holidays alone for the first time to attend our holiday celebrations. When extending the invitation, we must also patiently offer while giving that person permission to say no.

Being authentic about our own struggles is one of the best ways to show we care. Hurting people need a safe place to express themselves, knowing they will receive love and understanding. We don’t need to have experienced the same situation to understand what it’s like to feel the pain of loss or unmet needs. Sharing our own experiences, as appropriate, can help others know they are not alone and will not be rejected for sharing openly about their struggles.

Holidays are a time for giving and receiving love, meeting the needs of others, and celebrating the joy of the holidays. Don’t forget that there are some around you that are hurting. Try to be the one who reminds them there is still love in the world and hope for brighter days ahead.