Mom has a terrible time on days the sun isn’t out. Maybe it’s a good thing she has a multitude of Christmas trees lit in various rooms of her house. It is difficult if it’s dark and foreboding day after day when you’re nearly blind and housebound. Usually on weekends she has lots of company so those two days go pretty well for her. I have no idea how long I’ll have RSV and be contagious, and I guess I’ll stay away from her for another week to be sure. I have a couple appointments during the week coming up, but I’ll wear a mask.
Yesterday, I stayed in pajamas after showering. What’s the use, you know? I suppose I’m lucky we don’t make a huge deal about Christmas. The Babe doesn’t like it at all. His earliest memories aren’t good ones and they just seemed to get worse through the years. He tells me he was always aware his folks struggled financially (so many did during those years), and he knew they didn’t have the money for extras that Christmas brings.
Later, as a veteran and young father, times were always tough. It didn’t help with his growing need of alcohol to kill the PTSD thoughts and memories. Most young veterans from Vietnam didn’t know what was going on in their heads much less know how to deal with it. The generation before drowned their troubled thoughts. It was the thing that was done.
After divorce, being alone at Christmas was the norm, and he couldn’t wait for it to be over. I felt that way a lot, too. I had the kids, but no one for me in my life. I’m grateful we found each other, because Christmas is more special. It’s still hard, because Dad died before Christmas, Mom’s father died on Christmas Eve, and that’s not a good memory. There are many people who have a different story of how hard the season can be.
Losing a spouse makes a holiday hard, being unable to provide for your family’s basic needs makes a holiday extra hard; and PTSD can make life hard, much less holidays. When you’d rather be left alone, when the memories are too hard and the shadows plague your thoughts, holidays are hard. If you’re having troubles with depression right now, reach out to your local pastor, a trusted friend, or give the folks at the Centering Corporation in Omaha a call. They have a bunch of resources for grief and especially holiday grief. http://www.centering.com. I highly recommend them.
As we enter days of gatherings, parties, celebrations and fun of all kinds, look around the rooms you’re in; notice who keeps to themselves, who seems sad, and especially who isn’t there. Call them. Let them know they’re important. Find out how they’re feeling. Be prepared to listen. They need to tell their story. They need to share their grief. Let them share with you. You’ll feel better by including them, they’ll feel better not only with inclusion, but knowing someone cares. We all need that. It’s a gift that keeps giving.
Look around today. Observe. Include. Have a good weekend and know we’ll see each other tomorrow.