"Tis the Season"
BOOMER TALK DECEMBER, 2018
“Tis the season to be jolly”, this long holiday season extending from mid-November through January first. The jolly part may be thought of as feeling festive and joyful and light-hearted as we prepare for and then celebrate the special days of Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and then finally, The New Year.
But this celebratory sense is not felt by everyone, myself included. Instead, as Thanksgiving Day came and went, I felt melancholy (a less potent word than depressed). Some of that sad feeling had to do with my family and closest friends living too far away for a get-together. And besides, having just one designated day to focus on the quality of thankfulness never made sense to me because gratitude is something I often think about each and every day.
This year, more than any other, I add some things to be grateful for, beyond the usual items on my list…for family and friends and good health. I do especially feel blessed that this year sudden, violent loss has not directly touched my life. There was no quick-firing weapon in the hands of a madman coming into my grandchildren’s school, or into the place where I worship, or the movie theater or the music hall where I go for entertainment. There was no hurricane or fire that took away every one of my material possessions. I am so thankful not to be spending the holidays in the parking lot of Walmarts. I feel so grateful I am not that woman I see in the news who has had to walk across the miles carrying her baby, trying to get to the promised land and a better life. I am so thankful I am not a displaced person and that no serious disease has interrupted my daily routines.
As an aging boomer I especially feel grateful that my body and mind has held together….well mostly. Still, I do have, this year, a sense of generalized grief. The world’s sufferings have gotten to me and Bob Marley’s song, “So Much Trouble in the World” keeps coming into my mind. With all that is going on in our divided country and around the world, I am not able to fully feel happiness in this designated season of joyfulness. The holiday season seems to have the wrong values for me, including the opening of the shopping season named "Black Friday", followed by "Cyber Monday" encouraging our rush to get out and find the "real deals".
It is thought that gratitude and generosity go together. This has been called The Season for Sharing which means being generous with our gifts to family, friends and sometimes strangers. Generosity is valued in this season of giving, but maybe not so much throughout the year.
I remember the time when my six year old son was in Mass General Hospital for the entire “season” while the staff tried to figure out why he was so sick and not getting better. His condition was weak and his attitude bleak. This was not helped by the hoards of well-wishers daily coming into his room bearing gifts of toys or entertainment. They meant well, of course, but he was too tired and miserable, and so was I, to enjoy their visits. I concluded it would be far better appreciated if gift giving were it to be spread throughout the year, focusing on those in hospitals or nursing homes, those who were in need of cheering up, not only in the season
Feeling discouraged as I often lately do with the news of serious climate change, political strife, and more, I want to get out of my dark mood by reaching for courage, hoping to tap into some of these helpful ideas:
- Watch the stress level and if the media upsets us too much, turn off the continual display of “the breaking news.”
- Consider the bigger picture (which may be hidden from view) and recognize that, regrettably, some things may have to get worse before they can get better (like mass shootings and climatic disasters.)
- Move the body on a daily basis, finding ways to exercise that work for you, your waistline and your mood.
- Avoid the temptation to get out the credit card to buy things, probably unneeded by loved ones. Instead donate that money to one or more charities which can make a real difference in someone's life.