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EDITORIAL: Reach out

Christmas decorations. - Stock
For some, Christmas feels like outside looking in. — 123RF Stock photo

For many, with the first day of December here, we’re into the full of it now.

Some people have already put up their Christmas lights — still others even have their trees up. Walk your neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning and you’ll see lights peeking out in colours and patterns that don’t make their presence known during other parts of the year.

There might be a hint of snow in the air — in some parts of the province, there’s already been enough for a white Christmas a month early.

Holiday parties have begun, and there’s enough good cheer around to make you extra alert on the roads.

Some people love Christmastime; for others, it is a time of great stress, whether it’s the stress of finances, of expectations, or even the stress of having to maintain a cheery face.

We’re told all sorts of things about the holidays — that they’re a time for family and friends, that they are meant to show goodwill to all, and that list goes on.

Some people love Christmastime; for others, it is a time of great stress, whether it’s the stress of finances, of expectations, or even the stress of having to maintain a cheery face.

Still others feel outside of the season altogether. It may be because they’ve recently lost family or other loved ones; it may be because they have few friends and live isolated lives. It may be because the relentless call for good cheer echoes empty to them — and leaves them even more lonely than they feel at other times of year.

There is no magic cure for depression, seasonal or otherwise. Not only is there no magic cure, there’s a level of societal denial. Often, when people take leave from work for depression or other mental health reasons, they hear little from their work colleagues, colleagues who wouldn’t hesitate to visit or call if the illness was a physical one.

So, as we head into this holiday season, a season that demands much from all of us, be sure to pay attention and reach out to those who find this time of year particularly hard. The people for whom the demands are overwhelming.

Invite, but don’t push too hard; let people know they are welcome and that you want to see them, but don’t force them to have to try and be jolly if that’s beyond them. Let them know there’s a seat at the table, but also be aware that there are people who are quite comfortable with sitting by themselves. Others have to be drawn in sometimes; it is an art all its own.

But do spare time for those who are outside the warm glow of the holidays.

Yes, we know you’re busy enough already. Make some time. You might just change, or even save, a life.

Be aware. Be empathic.

Listen. No, really listen.

And remember: you can’t listen if you’re not there.

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