I had a whole spill on the importance of how we should give love and attention to those around us in this time of year that is reserved for family and feasts, as well as the religious traditions that some out there observe. I had this whole soapbox to stand on about how it's hard to be cheerful when this time of year is filled with a black mark of heightened rates of depression and suicide. But, in an almost comedic gesture, the universe, and more so involved, science, got together to "take a piss" at my expense (I watch way to many British sitcoms).
As it turns out the December trade off to January of an old for a new year is actually the lowest of all of the months for self-termination. I have also recently discovered that the "holiday blues," or depression brought on by the holiday season, is a load of bullocks (friggen Skins!) as well. In all reality, people, outside the SAD demographic, are statistically happier during the end of the year than any other time.But in this, there is still tragedy. The fact that the rate in America, and anywhere else in the world that holds this time of year important, religiously or not, is not zero is a crime in and of itself.
As a transplant to the Pacific Northwest via Arkansas who has been diagnosed with clinical depression, I understand the amplified hurts and hardships it is during the holiday season not to have family or close friends around during time those bonds are most celebrated, this is not to say that those studies are wrong, just that loneliness is a bitch. Seeing people with loved ones, or overhearing the plans of family coming into town to spend a week with the kids is not exactly a great and uplifting time, especially when those you love are nearly 1800 miles away.
Before you blow up those balloons for the pity party, let me tell you about the most amazing gift given to me earlier this month for Christmas that anyone can give between now and the time you pull the bird from the oven:
The man who owns the bookstore in my small NE Oregonian town, with whom I have been slowly growing a friendship with over the past year and a half, stopped mid-sentence during a conversation we were having about college or a Vonnegut novel, with a look of realization in his eyes that my holiday gatherings would be void of family or any other functional (or dysfunctional) relationship to share it with, and not so much asked if was going back home, but told me that I was to be coming over to his place to spend Christmas with him and his family, given that I wasn't flying back home for the holidays.
I can tell you right now that this kind gesture not only made my day that afternoon, but restored in me the hope that people really do give a shit about each other; that man isn't as jaded as the current events of the world want you to think. This is a gift that, once I am able to sometime in the future, I hope to be able to share with someone who may be in my current position.
Compassion. It's a gift of love, of life, and helps to build bonds between unlikely sources. Give it. Receive it. Pass the turkey leg. This holiday season, share your life with someone who you know, or even suspect may need it. Though statistically it's less needed, you may just save someone else's.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice and an especially Happy Festivus to all who read this.