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BellaOnline's Midlife Editor

Holiday Time - 'Tis the Season to be 'Jolly'

For many of us, holidays are among the most stressful times of the year. There are a myriad of things going on simultaneously -- getting the house ready for entertaining ($$), office parties, maybe out-of-town guests, shopping, cooking, and on and on; not to mention the financial end of things, which, in our economy, is not a pretty picture to think about right now.

Also on the downside, statistics show that there are a lot of suicides at this time of year. Many people find holidays not only stressful, but some have a sense of loneliness and depression, which leads to such sad statistics over this period. It is a much more common scenario than I think a lot of us realize - epecially now, with our men overseas at war - and all the fallout it entails as far as the thousands upon thousands of families it affects - sons, daughters, grandchildren, off to war - many within the same family.

I read an article in a New York newspaper the other day, in a society 'gossip' column that caught my eye and my attention, and gave me pause for thought. It was quoting a wealthy socialite who said she now organizes sit down dinners at her home for twenty people or so at this time of the year ..."because I got tired of being alone and having lousy holidays". This came from a New York socialite who has the means to 'deck her halls' and fill her house with probably whatever and whoever she wants. I thought about how many people must feel this way at a time of year which should be so joyous, so full of love and hope.

For those of us who might find themselves in this situation over the holidays, a good way to cheer yourself up is to volunteer at a local soup kitchen to help those less fortunate than you. This might sound like an old record - but I guarantee you will walk away feeling really good knowing you played a part in another person's well-being, and you will be grateful for the opportunity. It renews the spirit - your spirit, to give and, in so doing, you actually reap the benefits - tenfold. They're not tangible, but they are oh so much more rewarding.

As I have observed, many of us, as we get older, begin to lose our network of friends and/or relatives we have had - who move away for their own various reasons. More often than not, economical reasons play a large role in their decision making. This sense of loss can cause such a void in our lives; lots of changes seem to take place at this point in our mid-lives for one reason or another. One thing that can always be counted on is change, like it or not, and it is one of those things that most people do not adapt to well. We are, for the most part, I believe, creatures of habit and, therefore, 'change', especially hitting close to home, can shake up even the toughest of us.

Also, in speaking of changes at this midlife stage, the call of grandparenting comes to us and we heed that call - with bells on. A new life and new reasons for hope and joy - a new beginning! We get to have more joy, more fun this time around -- all the cherries without the pits! What a wonderful gift, especially for those of us who have worked hard our entire life, a lot of us as single parents, who now get to reap the rewards of what we have sown. It is our oh so just reward, the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae - to have a new grandbaby coming into our lives to love, to nurture, to spoil and to enjoy!

I have had my share of being alone at holiday time, and it is no picnic, I know. But, I would always manage to keep myself very busy doing constructive things, especially in and around the house - giving me a certain sense of fulfillment when I found myself alone. Try it yourself - it is exilarating. At times I would totally exhaust myself getting the house ready at holiday time - and, by doing that (plus maybe a little pep talk thrown in), would leave myself no time for even thinking about feeling sorry for myself, as I knew I really wasn't alone - we're all in this same universe together; some people feel lonely and isolated even sitting at a large family gathering.

I would do a major overhaul and cleaning of the house -- taking down drapes, washing windows, scrubbing everything - and have a sparkling home to enjoy. I love to cook - so I'd make myself my most favorite dinner, and sit down and savor it. I would do everything I usually didn't have time to do because of my work schedule (I commuted 2 hours each way to and from work at that time). Then I would just let myself crash - sleep and rest to my heart's content, to have a complete sense of renewal by the time I went back to work. Many of us, at one time or another, have or will find ourselves alone at some point in our lives. The trick is to keep your chin up and keep active - busy yourself with anything you can think of to do that has needed to be done for a while.

Then, celebrate your accomplishment by making yourself a scrumptious dinner with candlelight, maybe some wine or champagne, and a great dessert - and toast to yourself for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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