By Hollis Wormsby, Jr.
The holidays season is one of the most joyous times of the year for many people. With the parties and the gifts and gathering of family, it can all seem so magical. But for folks who are struggling with depression or other mental health issues, the expectations raised by the holidays are often just one more, or maybe the one too many thing, that they can handle and they are reminded that they don’t have anything good or joyful to look forward to. For them, Christmas is just one more kick in the you know what.
It is hard to be the one person you know who no one cares about at Christmas time. Truth is, there is almost always someone who cares, but in the darkness that encompasses the troubled-soul it is difficult to see. There are the senior citizens who have become estranged from their family. I talked with a friend who is helping someone in this situation right now. For whatever reasons over the course of a lifetime they have broken relationships with the people they would normally call family and spend the holidays with.
In this case the person was a terrible husband and father, who did nothing for his children and abused his wife. His wife and children moved away to get away from him and because he was still more concerned with his habits and his pleasures than in salvaging a relationship with them, they all drifted out of his life and wanted little to do with him now that he is older and has needs. How do we make him feel the holiday spirit? Even more important how do we make him feel like he has a reason to live?
I talked with someone recently who has been strung out on drugs for a lot of years. They have an education, and once had a good job and provided for a family, but somewhere along the way, decided that the drugs were the only thing that mattered and consistently broke promises, embarrassed their children and used their family to enable their behaviors until no one wants anything to do with him now.
As we approach the holidays, he thinks about the life he threw away and the loved ones, especially his children whose trust he obliterated along the way. It is often a lonely life for him, but at the holidays the loneliness is so much darker. How do we make him feel the holiday spirit? How do we make him believe that one day his children are going to forgive him and be willing to be a part of his life again?
There are those who have been destroyed economically and can no longer live the way the once did or provide the way they once did. The holidays remind them of who they used to be and the joy the holidays used to bring when they were on their game. But the humiliation of financial ruin has sent them into a shell they may never leave, and even though they may still be welcome by the ones they have loved, they are too ashamed of their failure to want to be a part of their lives.
How do we make them feel the holiday spirit? How do we make them believe that to the ones that love them they are more than their failure and that there is still reason for hope and there are still people who care.
For those who are able to enjoy them, the holidays are wonderful times. There is the food, the laughter of loved ones sharing time and for some even the renewal of their faith in their God and their beliefs. I hope you are one of these persons. But we also need to accept that there are people that we know that for various reasons will not have hope, will not have joy and will not feel the peace and joy of the season.
In my opinion if you are blessed to be able to enjoy this holiday season, you owe it to yourself and to your God to reach out to someone in your circle who is struggling and see if there is not something you can do to make their life just a little bit better. You never know when it will be you or I who are feeling this way and desperately will want someone, anyone to reach out to us. As a form of paying it forward, if you can, reach out to someone in need this holiday season and let them know you want to be there for them. It is what Jesus would do and He is the reason for the season. Or at least that is the way I see it.
Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.