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It can be hard to know what to say to someone who doesn’t have support from their family over the holidays. My own daughter has been pretty lucky for the most part. She always knew, because I told her repeatedly, that I didn’t care who she loved, as long as they loved her back. I used to tell her, “Boy, girl, purple alien, whoever,” and though it came to be a sort of family in-joke, she knew deep inside that I meant it. Others of her peer group weren’t so lucky, and I saw the negative results of family or friend rejection firsthand more than once.
Maybe you’ve experienced some of that yourself. I can’t erase that memory from your brain, though I wish I could. Maybe you’re feeling some of that rejection from your family, or coworkers, or people you thought were your friends right now. So let me tell you this: You really do have people out here who love you. You matter, especially to me. I know what it means to be lonely in a room full of laughing people, and right now, at this very moment, while you’re reading this, I am thinking about you and wishing I could make hugs into something tangible I could send through the Internet.
One of my favorite childhood traditions, which I continue as often as I can as an adult, is hosting single Airmen at our family dinners at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The guys were usually young, sometimes away from home for the first time, unable to be with their own families. While it’s not exactly the same thing, they also shared a feeling of loneliness at a time of year when every single thing we hear is about families and sharing and happiness and love and joy, whether we like it or not.
In my own home, as an adult, everyone is welcome as long as you come hungry. Can you chop celery or fry up some bacon? Can you sit on the couch and watch TV? Can you improve on my family’s cornbread dressing recipe? Can you drink soda, or set the table, or help with the dishes? Can you debate the relative merits of Battlestar Galactica or Babylon 5? All of those things matter to me more than what you look like or whether you’re loving an “acceptable” person. You’d be welcome in my home, as would anyone you’d choose to bring, and if you wanted one, you’d be entitled to a hug when you came in the door.
So remember that. The inner me sees the you that’s inside, with all your trippy little quirks and your hopes for the future, and I love you. I hope that helps your holidays be merry in a whole new way.
Photo Credit: Jodi Amoruso