2020 has not been kind to most of us; and for some, in multiple ways. The good news is we’ve only a month to go. The bad news, those few remaining days are coming during what is for many, already an emotional and stressful month.
Traditionally, retailers with products to sell off before year end extend their hours and in so doing, make more demands upon their staff. December is that, ‘make it or break it’ month, as bean counters rely heavily on Black Friday and the, ‘Only __ days until Christmas!’ events to balance the books. For we consumers, the pressure is on to find the right gifts, at affordable prices, wrap and label, hide or post them, and if ordering online, allow sufficient time to have them delivered ahead of the big day.
2020 though adds layers of uncertainty. Fear of illness, restrictions on movement, reservations about increased online scams, anguish over whether family should even get together or not, uncertainty of whether to buy a big turkey or modest bird, it just goes on. Why even the decision to decorate or not and to what extent is weighing on people’s minds. The chaos and upheaval of packing up year round accessories and unpacking boxes of Christmas decorations is normally a happy time we wouldn’t have any other way, but for some it will be bittersweet as individuals wonder if anyone will even be allowed in their house to share in the transformation and see the tree.
Practically speaking, a lot of us are out of work; or if we landed new jobs, we had a loss of employment and the income that went with it at some point this past year. So gift buying might be quite different this year, and if gift buying is different, so too will be gift receiving. Be aware now, and remember this, so your expectations don’t disappoint you, straining your good mental health which 2020 has attacked with regularity.
And so it is, my good reader, that we must give others – and ourselves – the gift of gracious understanding. We’re all under a lot of pressure; some of us know it and some of us don’t. Having an increased capacity for empathy may just be what gets us through the remaining month and into 2021. Like the Who’s down in Whoville, we might wake up Christmas morning and find Christmas comes just the same whether or not it comes with ribbons on boxes, with bows and with tags. May we wake up with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts just the same.
For a lot of folks, December is a stressful month as it brings back reminders of loved ones who have left, relationships ended, feelings of isolation and being left behind which this year will be that much more intensely felt. Many long term care facilities won’t be permitting visitors, and the deterioration of mental and physical health may surprise us when we do eventually get back to seeing parents and grandparents in care there.
But it’s not all bleak despair.
I’m advocating for increased appreciation and gratitude for the many people who, despite all the above, are not only going about their work days as usual, they’re stepping up their level of service and investing much more personal energy in doing so. All kinds of people are keeping us safe while putting themselves at risk; receiving no increase in compensation for doing so. The minimum wage earner who wipes your grocery cart handles you don’t see and the Cashier who has to wipe down the conveyer belt when you mistakenly put your reusable bags on it among them.
There are people, (and I’m one) wearing masks for the entirety of 7 hour shifts, still trying to convince people to don their own masks for much shorter periods of time. Inconvenient and uncomfortable for sure, but done not only to protect ourselves, but to safeguard the very people who complain about having to wear their own and wear it properly. Pulling it beneath your nose because your glasses fog up or pulling it down to speak puts us all at risk; you’re doing it wrong. Sigh…
And yet, these are the very kinds of situations in which we have to have more empathy for the folks involved. That doesn’t mean we’re complacent or lax in reminding others to mask up, but we can do it with empathy because we too know it’s not comfortable. Patience, understanding, kindness etc.; may they all be in great abundance.
If you’re feeling a trifle sadder this year with any of the above, consider that you’re moving a tad closer to better appreciating what it may be like for people with anxiety and depression. Some if not all of these people go from day to day throughout the year – and have done so for years – living with multiples of what you may be only now coming close to. Anxiety and depression being invisible to the eye, extending understanding and graciousness to others could do a world of good and you’ll never know what a kindness you may have paid forward.
In your online posts, be gentle. Hit, ‘like’ a little more often rather than sending an anonymous volley at someone you don’t know in the least. Be good to each other and in so doing, be good to yourself.