They’ll have a blue Christmas without you: How to combat holiday loneliness

By in Opinions

Christmas cheer has unfortunately been overshadowed by consumerism and consumption. However, I believe the holiday really can be the most wonderful time of the year when it brings people together.

The conventional way to celebrate Christmas in 2017 is to live excessively. Society sustains the narrative that to be Christmassy, one must spend a fortune. Whether you’re throwing cash toward an obscene amount of food or lavish gifts, which you know you can’t afford, participating in Christmas can break the bank to such an extreme extent that you might just find yourself doomed to spend the next month subsisting entirely on noodles.

We can’t all go home for the holidays.

From an environmentally concerned perspective, Christmas is nightmarish. According to Zero Waste Canada, every year, Canadians will purchase around 4.3 million turkeys, 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion greeting cards and 6 million rolls of tape. But, creating an abundance of joy does not need to be synonymous with creating an abundance of stuff.

I love going home for the holidays — being the youngest of four siblings means that it is a rarity that all of us are all in one place at one time. Thus, I love the festive period, because I know that it is the one time of the year when we will all be together.

My experience with the holidays is the same every year. Tears are guaranteed from my mom when she decorates the tree, as she mourns the baubles that have been lost and broken over the years. Then, we’ll argue in the supermarket as she buys four different kinds of meat, despite the fact that she and my dad are the only ones who’ll eat it in our family.

On Christmas Day, I’ll inevitably get a lecture for being hungover during church, and then, my dad will get too drunk and burn dinner. Later, I’ll have to pretend to love the terrible gifts that my extended family has picked out for me. Yes, Uncle Billy, I’ve always wanted a One Direction calendar.

Most festive celebrations are inevitably disappointing. Awful jokes and arguments are not the makings of an enjoyable occasion, but I still treasure the time that I get to spend with my family and friends over Christmas.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have such sentimental and warm feelings about Christmas. There is too much pressure to be happy on this arguably arbitrary day, and what is supposed to be the most joyful time of the year can be one of the most isolating and lonely periods of the year for many people.

According to a 2016 study by clinical psychologist Ami Rokach, loneliness amongst the elderly population is an epidemic. Statistics Canada reports that as many as 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely. The epidemic is exacerbated during the festive period because of the societal pressures to be surrounded by loved ones.

The reality for many is that Christmas is just like any other day of the year, but I believe it is imperative to love and value those in your life and in your community who may feel isolated, especially during the consumerist Christmas holidays.

There are some amazing Saskatoon organizations that you could get involved with this holiday season to make a difference in the community if you feel the season is lacking. Saskatoon’s Friendship Inn provides hot meals 365 days of the year, and Christmas is one of their busiest days. Visit friendshipinn.ca to get involved with this fantastic organization.

Marianne Holt

Photo: Gabbie Torres