Thanksgiving is looming, its right around the corner. It is a holiday that I as a South African had never heard of until our move to Nigeria 10 years ago. We were invited by friends for the day and the table was surrounded by laughing people from all over the world, all far away from their own families. The table was laden with food I had never heard of, sweet potatoes with marshmallows…pumpkin pie…there was so much joy in that room that day, all because we were not alone for the holidays. However, not everyone is this lucky. Holiday loneliness is real, and the holidays are not a joyful time for a lot of people.
Time ticks by slowly for those who miss their family
It became a tradition in our 6 years spent there. That first Thanksgiving is a memory that I hold very close to my heart as it was the blessing of abundance and human kindness. A celebration of human beings that come from different walks of life that all had one thing in common – just being together.
We celebrate Thanksgiving every year, either at our home or at friends and it has become a special celebration for us especially living in America. It is a day of friends that are family with new traditions and old. Being thankful and being present but most of all being aware of those that have and 0f those that don’t.
There are sadly far more that don’t:: so many people suffer from holiday loneliness.
11 Years this Christmas, that is how long ago it was that we had a family Christmas. Wayne and I had just got married and had family fly in from as far as Zimbabwe, United Kingdom and the United States. On this one Christmas day we had both sets of parents, Wayne’s grandfather, all our siblings and my nephews at one giant table. It was not only a celebration of our love and new life, but a celebration of a united family and togetherness. It was the first family Christmas and the last family Christmas together.
September that next year Wayne and I left South Africa and moved to Nigeria where the two of us spent our first of many Christmas’s without the giant table of our family.
What we did find, however, on those special holidays, where I felt like my heart could burst with longing was that we were enveloped by friends that took us in and who shared their table and made us part of their family. Every year we are blessed by the abundance of others. Family is the people you want to share time with and the people you choose. It does not make the aching to have your parents around any less or to see your siblings and their kids around your tree. What it does do though is it makes that longing less. We have created new traditions and we make new beautiful memories. We are reminded every year that we are not alone.
The Unlucky Ones
There are however an abundance of people alone – scatterlings’ around the world wishing these special occasions and holidays away because of holiday loneliness. Did you know that suicide ratings literally double over the holidays?
There are the poor and deserted and the depressed and suicidal. Those that have lost parents or children, or both. Those that are separated from their families, the sick, those in war torn cities. The old and alone in retirement homes. There are broken homes, broken families, broken memories and broken people.
The holidays are not happy for everyone.
What you can do for others with holiday loneliness
- Why not be the table of abundance? Invite someone to join your family table that is alone on the holidays. Invite a family that is away from theirs to make their hearts a little warmer. The more is always the merrier.
- Cook a meal for a family in need.
- Donate some winter wear to the homeless.
- Have your kids write some letters of love and drop them off at old aged homes, or veteran centers.
- Bake cookies and drop them off at the fire house for those that work overtime to ensure our safety.
- Take your unwanted handbags and fill them with womanly goodies and donate to those that are cold and homeless.
- Donate blood.
- Host a toy drive or canned food collection in your neighborhood. Most local food pantry or shelters accept food donations.
- Create blessing bags
- Talk to a homeless person, bless them with your time and your kindness. Eye contact. Acknowledge them.
- Donate blankets and pet food to animal shelters.
- Buy a gift and write a note and drop them at the Children’s cancer ward at your nearest hospital.
- Greet your till attendant at the grocery store. They are working and not with their families. Thank them for their service.
- Serve meals at your local soup kitchen.
- Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen – 2009 Congress St, Houston. (713)529-4231
- Eternal Food Ministry – 541 Pin Oak Rd, Katy. (281) 271-1730
- Lunches of love – 1416 Radio Ln, Rosenberg. (832) 586-6995
Be someone that gives hope this year, and who doesn’t contribute to someone else’s holiday loneliness. Be someone that creates a new tradition with your family and friends, be someone that teaches your kids that there is more to the holidays than family and food, toys and cheer. Be someone that is mindful that there is someone that has nothing.
BE KIND – HUMAN~KIND
Share your stories of “being someone” with us, if you have any fantastic ideas of how to serve your community or tidbits of donation’s of love please share it with us.