The holiday season is upon us once again! Joyful, sparkly magazine covers are adorned with pictures of beautiful appointed tables with lush, colorful centerpieces and astonishing looking meals. (What is that smooth, shiny icing called on the cookies? It has a special name??) Pictured are lots of people sitting around the huge tables: all dressed well, make-up on, happily laughing, and toasting each other.
After the social isolation of 2020, this century's version of the Roaring Twenties is ON!
You might be feeling so overwhelmed by all the festivities and the people you are so fortunate to have in your life! All the gifts to buy and the food shopping to do! And trying to keep the dinner reservations straight! What a great time!
But, then....wait? Wot?
Did you know that Cigna has been conducting loneliness surveys since 2018? The first surveyed over 20,000 Americans. In 2018, 43% report feeling lonely most of the time. The first survey reported 1 in 5 feeling lonely all the time.
In 2019, the second surveyed over 10,000 Americans. In 2019, the number of people feeling lonely in America escalated to 1 in 3. This is staggering. This means there are millions, millions of lonely people in America.
Wait...what? You say: "Don't bring me down. This has NOTHING to do with me. Nothing at all. My family is growing every year, so there's no such thing as loneliness. I am much too busy. I'm married, I have three grown children, who have partners and they have kids! It's been joyous!"
You smile and carry on.
Did you notice your neighbor as you walked your dog down the street? He's smiling, putting the garbage by the side of the road. He has his funny Ugly Christmas Sweater on. You kind of remember that he lost his parents a few years back, but you're not sure. You smile at him and say "Crazy week! So busy! So much shopping to do! We are up to 40 people at the table now!"
And you really don't notice his eyes slightly wince as he smiles and shows off his funny sweater. "Wow! Look at this nutty sweater I bought! Yes, I', crazy busy! I'm off to the store myself and then to my cousins later this week!"
You laugh and turn away, with a funny feeling that his smiling face masks he's not being truthful.
Some people have large families and others just do not. The American reality is that alot of families are estranged for various reasons....divorce and familial sexual abuse being part of those reasons. The reality is that 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys are victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Did you know the majority of all CSA -- 94% -- is perpetrated by family members? This includes parents and relatives such as siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts or other domestic partners of the parent. You probably know someone who is either a perpetrator or a survivor (RAINN, 2019). These people often have what is called an estranged family. The holidays can be very lonely and triggering for people who have survived CSA and are estranged from their families. And divorce is very common today ..around 43% of first marriages end in divorce. This takes a toll on family relationships.
In the spirit of love and caring, remember that not everyone experiences the holidays as a wonderful time of family gatherings.
And it's ok if you aren't crazy busy. It's ok if you have a very small gathering or if you are planning on spending the holidays volunteering or hiking or watching movies at home.
You are enough. The magazines are glossy lies and don't reflect the reality of what is.
You are enough.
Have a realistic holiday!