Many of you know this is a weird time of year for me: my father was both born and died in the month of November (born 11/7, died 11/30). It's a time of year in which I like to reflect, and also put together puzzle pieces from my past. Ultimately, separation from my father is always on the front of my mind this time of year, and not necessarily in a sad way. Instead of thinking of how much I miss him & what not, I tend to think of people that are separated from their loved ones-for any number of reasons.
Thoughts of my belated father take me instantly into a state of empathy for those that are alone for the holidays--I can't explain it, it's just how it is. I empathize best (especially during the holidays) with those that are alone: the lonely, despondent, the broken, and the shattered. I didn't choose this: again, it's just how it is.
For those that don't know, I spent many years alone--(this was before I met a girl and had children, of course). There was a time in my life-it lasted almost a decade-that I thought I'd die a lonely and early death. It wasn't that I ever wanted to die, it was just that I felt it wouldn't matter if I did. I didn't know at that time that this was a dangerous thought to have, but somehow someone was always there to keep me around--someone to show me compassion. Call it luck, fate, destiny or good fortune or what have you, but someone was always there: someone that made me realize my existence mattered. Those people weren't always friends and family--in fact, many of them were complete strangers, hard as that may be for some of you to believe.
My point in telling you this is to remind you that the holidays are an especially difficult time of year for those who are alone for any number of reasons. I'm not alone anymore-and very grateful for that, of course-but I've been there and know the emotions of a person that's alone feels during the holidays, and I know the thoughts too (yes, I've asked myself the unspeakable "What if?..." questions).
If you believe in what we're doing, and you want to make the world a better place, reach out to someone you know is alone for the holidays--they need you more than you realize. Whether it's a neighbor, cashier at your local store, or the family member that's been cut off: we all know and recognize someone who will struggle with their existence during this holiday season. Today is a great day to call someone you haven't spoken to in years, or even to introduce yourself to the neighbor you've never spoken to.
I'm not suggesting you say anything in particular or take any specific action, by the way. I know from my own experience that there were times in my life that the simple smile from a stranger made my day brighter, kept me alive. Do yourself a favor this Thanksgiving holiday, and reach out to someone who needs it--I guarantee you know someone who will be alone this day by no choice of their own. Seriously, sometimes a sincere smile & a sense of compassion in the heart is all it takes--sometimes, even, the difference between life and death. Let's make this the best Thanksgiving day ever!