Let’s face it the holidays can be trying for some . The most wonderful time of the year doesn’t apply to everyone. Studies show that for some the holidays can be the worst time of the year. While other’s are giving thanks for family and friends and bust shopping and singing carols. For some the approaching days may be filled with everything but light and hope. So how do you deal with the holidays if your’e alone or estranged from family.

 Image by © Larry Williams/CORBIS

Image by © Larry Williams/CORBIS

Everyone of us knows or knows of someone who is in this situation. How can we help? Do we help ? The answer isn’t so cut and dry. While some dread the holidays because of all the reminders that come with it, family, friends, the joy of giving. Some dread it because they don’t feel they have much to be thankful for. Especially if they’ve lost a loved one. The thought of spending time with other’s can be overwhelming. Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular is very trying for me. My late Mother always made such a big deal over these two holidays . There were weeks of planning the perfect Thanksgiving dinner . Finding the biggest bird to feed all of us 10 kids and invited guests.

Our home smelled of turkey and sweet potatoes and cinnamon and apples . It always made me feel warm and safe and loved…and even though I now share these special holidays with my own husband and children and extended family I still feel her presence and a part of me is always sad on Thanksgiving Day. Christmas Day is a little worse. No matter what was happening in our lives . My Mom made Christmas special.

With 10 kids, it wasn’t always easy. My Dad was the sole bread winner and while my Mom was capable of working,my dad would not hear of it. So us kids got to have our mom to ourselves all the time. Christmas Eve was spent decorating the tree and opening one present after church. Christmas Day was spent eating …everything in sight and singing and  just being together. I’ve tried to preserve all the memories these holidays brought with them. And even when sadness envelops me I know that the blessing is, is that I have them forever. So I follow the traditions that my mother taught me, I still use her recipes for the tastiest, most moist turkey ever. Her sweet potato pies are now favorites among my boys and their friends. My father is gone too now. He enjoyed the holidays almost as much as my Mom. I know he looked forward to watching us kids sit around the table on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And leading us in song as we gave thanks for family and on Christmas to the birth of Christ. The holidays can be spectacular for some but devastating for others. I’ve found the best way to help someone whose dealing with a loss or break-up or even a divorce is to leave the door open, let them know that you are there for them. Invite them to spend time with you and your family. Insist that they are family too. If a big family gathering is too much , offer to have them over a few days before . Do what you can to ensure that they aren’t alone on these days. Even if it means you going to them for an hour or two. Prepare a small breakfast or lunch and let them know how important they are to your life, who can resist a roasted chicken or small turkey, if you have the time. Bring a small tree for Christmas already decorated if they celebrate the holiday, trust me it will lift their spirits. Mostly all any of us wants is to feel loved. The holidays mean showing love for most of us we are ready to receive it. We should be more than ready to give it as well.