Washington, DC - Christmas is the most depressing time of the year for many people. New Year's Eve is another difficult time.
There are lots of reasons why depression and suicide rates soar during these holidays. Feeling alone, financial distress, health issues, family problems and the list can actually be long.
Here are some quick tips for you. Keep this column handy for reference over the next two weeks:
Plan to be connected to people during these holidays. Even if it's sitting on the sofa making telephone calls all day at least you are talking and hearing people. Actually this is a good idea anyway. Make a long list and call people and wish them a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year. Or, divide your list and call some one holiday and the rest on New Year's Eve. Too many people sit back with the attitude, "Well, they haven't called me." Don't worry about that because we are talking about your self-preservation here. Have people in your home whether it's family or people in your neighborhood. Have them for just coffee and a cookie. Better yet, if you have family, relax and just roll with the holiday punches. There is absolutely nothing else to do on Christmas. Your local convenient store or truck stop might be open but that's it. Enjoy and love the people you might be around - it's only once a year that you are truly stuck all day with them. You can survive it.
Do not fuss about anything. Be nice to everybody. Let the stupid things that people say to you roll off your back. Smile and act like you are having a wonderful time even if some relative is driving you crazy. Just laugh and have fun.
Keep it simple. Don't overspend your bank account. Don't rack up a big credit card debt. Let other people help you with any cooking, kitchen details and clean up. Share the joy with other people. Most people are happy to chip in and it makes them and you feel better.
Allow yourself plenty of time. My wife starts cooking Christmas dinner two weeks early. She makes something and then puts it in the freezer. If she makes one thing every day we normally end up with enough food for the neighborhood. There was a time when she tried to do it all on one day. This drove her and all of us crazy. Last minute cooking, shopping and leaving home late to travel a long trip is all nerve racking and takes some of the fun out of the holiday.
Help one or two people along the way. No one person can save the world but you never know when your assistance might be a miracle for someone. Years ago a man had tied up all of his money into a house when suddenly he lost his job and had no way to keep the house. The bank secured everything he owned and there were zero dollars available to do anything. He didn't know what he was going to do including buy groceries or even find another place to rent. A financially secure man in the town heard about the plight of the other guy and called him into his office one week before Christmas to announce to him he was going to buy his house from him. The man was overwhelmed with joy and was able to eventually secure another place to live, another job and move forward with his life. However for sometime he lived each day feeling and knowing that his life and family were in severe peril. He told me once that what happened was truly a life saving miracle.
You probably aren't in the position to just buy somebody's house in order to financially save him or her. However, maybe a good word, a small financial gift, or even trying to help somebody find a job might be miracle life saving acts that you might give to someone.
Christmas only comes once a year if we are blessed to see and enjoy the day.
Be thankful. Give thanks to God Almighty for His blessings. Don't give ugly gestures to people on the highway. Be nice to Republicans and Democrats and Independents and all other parties - at least on Christmas.
We need more joy, smiles and happiness in America. Do your part. You are one person. If every person contributes we can truly all have a more Merry Christmas.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is President of Newburgh Theological Seminary, Newburgh, Indiana
and his syndicated column is read in all 50 states.