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Friday, December 21, 2007

My Holiday Wish

Connie Castanera

As we approach that "special day" that most of us look forward to during the holiday season; let's take a few moments to remember that there are still many people who don't approach that special day in the same way. Holidays are a time of year that can be very difficult for many people, particularly if you have lost a loved one, if you don't have anyone to share celebrations with, or if your financial struggles prevent you from participating in family traditions and gatherings.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, or Eid'ul-Adha, this is a time when people gather to share in traditions that bring them closer to their creator and their families. Gatherings generally include traditional culinary specialties that elicit a range of emotions for many of us. For some, the mere thought of a particular dish has the power to mentally transport us back to childhood memories, when we can recall the flavors we savored, along with associated emotions.

If those memories include lost loved ones, it can result in sadness, or depression at a time when everyone else appears to be joyous. Loneliness and isolation can also prevent people from getting into the holiday spirit. Not having anyone to share festive foods and traditions with can exacerbate the feelings of loneliness and isolation. We generally associate traditional and festive dishes with people we've shared those festive dishes with in the past. When we lose someone special, it can leave us feeling as if a huge piece of our life is missing, and that prevents us from "getting into the holiday spirit."

Financial difficulties can also play a part in putting a damper on the "holiday spirit." How does anyone explain to a child why all their friends are receiving expensive gifts, but financial struggles prevent them from receiving the same or similar gifts? We all know that the holidays are "really" not about getting lots of expensive gifts, but how does one explain that to a child? A limited budget can even prevent some from enjoying those festive foods that they've shared in the past, because obtaining the ingredients can be cost prohibitive.

This holiday season, I ask you to think about the people you know who may not be able to enjoy the season due to the pain of a lost loved one, loneliness, isolation, sadness, or poverty, and reach out to them. Please do your best to include them in your celebrations; or encourage them to share in your holiday traditions. If that is not possible, simply maintain contact throughout the holiday season. Let them know you care.

My wish for this holiday season is for ALL to feel valued, loved, appreciated, and respected. To all of you, I wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season, filled with love and shared family traditions. In my home, we will be celebrating Christmas. Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, too! Good article.