As I was doing my prep for the coming holiday week, I couldn’t help stopping to reflect that this is a “mixed emotions” time of year. Happiness about seeing relatives, excitement about scoring the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person, but also sadness because loved ones are missing, and even despair over the state of the world. Can you believe all the “end of the world” talk – people treating today’s date as something inescapable?
The Mayan date was a false alarm, of course, but it’s not that hard to feel like the end of the world is on you when you stop to dwell on all the bad news we’ve seen lately. Even without it, the holidays can be a time of sadness; let me share some heartwarming interaction I had this week with one of my readers. Truth be told, it’s what made me turn to this topic for my blog. She wrote that she had come across my article “Spouseless and the Holidays,” and wanted me to know that it had a meaningful effect on her. I’m glad it did, but she is only one of countless others who are facing the holidays with an empty spot in their lives. How could I not also then reflect on the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT, so near to me? For so many families this would be the first of a never-ending string of holidays with someone noticeably absent.
Why do the holidays evoke such strong emotions in us? Loved ones who are gone are surely missed every day, right? I think the overwhelming focus on “enforced holiday joy” simply throws feelings of loss into harsh contrast. And one can’t help but notice the absence even more. In summary, I propose – humbly – that we wouldn’t have such responses if we didn’t care. And we do, don’t we? We care that people will be missed, that the world might not be fair for everyone, and even that we will have to wait another year to be together with some of our present loved ones.
So since I’d rather care, I say bring it on! So what if we have mixed emotions – because for every low there are always plenty of bright spots. And as far as those go, well – there’s no end in sight.