Holiday Blues and Single Parents

I really hate to be a Gloomy Gus every year, but as the world gears up for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, my mood winds down.

Even though I’ve put up the tree, hung lights on the bushes and decorated the house, I’ve felt a disappointing lack of enthusiasm while doing these things. Cheery holiday music playing 24/7 in the background helps, but….something’s missing.

Holidays were wonderful when I was younger. But they lost their luster when I lost my husband, followed by my mother, followed by my father, all within a five-year span. On an emotional level, I seem to become preoccupied with what I don’t have at this time of the year.

This morning it occurred to me that, if it’s my focus that’s causing me problems, then I need to do something to shift my focus. Instead of looking inward, I’m going to try to look outward. Rather than dwelling on the fact that my holidays aren’t as memorable as they used to be, why don’t I think about what I can do to make someone else’s holidays better?

Maybe this year, I’ll do something like

• visit a nursing home

• serve at a soup kitchen

• donate toys or clothes to kids who really need them

• help out at the local animal shelter

• call someone who’s lost a loved one during the past year to let them know that I understand

• send a care package to a soldier overseas

I have a feeling that, if I refocus on what someone else (or something else, in the case of an abandoned kitty cat) is missing, I’ll have less time and energy to think too much about myself. Maybe I can replace what’s missing with the fulfillment that would come from making a positive difference in someone else’s life.

In fact, I really must take a few moments to thank God for what I do have. I am so blessed in so many ways; I never want to take the good things and good people in my life for granted. It’s about refocusing again. I’m going to shift my attention to everything and everyone for whom I’m grateful.

How about you? Do you tend to feel a little glum at this time of the year? If you do, how do you perk yourself up? If you don’t, what keeps you positive and upbeat? Let the rest of us know. Maybe something that works for you will help another single parent here.

— Fran

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Wherever you are, whoever you are, know that your life is unfolding just as it should be, all is in divine order, and every precious little moment on this planet is worthy of your presence.

— Nancy Vogl, co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul”