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December 20, 2013

Help those for whom Christmas is 'blue'

The Daily Star

---- — For some, “Blue Christmas” is just a catchy tune made popular by Elvis Presley. But for others, it’s much more than that. 

“Holidays grow different when we grow older, when we lose a loved one,” said Kate Hewlett of Oneonta in a recent interview with The Daily Star. 

Her words remind us all that “the most wonderful time of the year” isn’t necessarily so wonderful for everyone. 

Hewlett is organizer of the Peer Alliance Group, a support group whose recent meeting featured conversations about how to “beat the holiday blues.”

When the holidays coincide with the anniversary of the death of someone close to us, Christmas can mean sad memories rather than happy ones. For people far from family, the holiday that is all about togetherness can be extremely lonely. Participating in the “season of giving” can be difficult when funds are tight. And cold weather coupled with short days can bring blue feelings, too. 

It is extremely easy to stay caught up in one’s personal needs at this time of year. There are so many demands on one’s time, from holiday parties and gift exchanges to shopping for family or planning meals and get-togethers. And stress levels can rise as we jockey in crowded parking lots and stores or wait in line at the post office.

But it’s worth picking our heads up once in a while to see if the people around us could use a helping hand during the holidays. 

Maybe it’s extending an invitation to an elderly neighbor for, if not a full holiday meal, just a cup of coffee, a few Christmas cookies and a chat. 

Maybe it’s a silly gift to put a smile on the face of a co-worker who seems a bit down. 

Or maybe it’s a phone call to someone far from you, or far from home, who you sense could use some holiday cheer. 

It doesn’t have to be much, but these little things can make a big difference. 

Hewlett encouraged PALs participants to identify someone, a friend or associate and not necessarily a family member, to be a positive support to help get through the season.

PALs members also talked about the palliative effect of giving. 

“I find appreciating other people makes me feel wonderful,” one woman told the group.

This is good advice for anyone who is struggling with stress, depression or just a little bit of “the blues” — not just during the holidays, but at any time. 

And for those who do feel jolly, remember that you could be that helping hand for someone else who is struggling. 

“You have bad moments, but you have tools,” Hewlett said. “We need to push and move forward.”

We wish everyone, “blue” or otherwise, a happy holiday season.