Lately, I've been realizing that Christmas is not alway a happy time of year for a lot of people. Media, society, culture, etc. tells us that we should all be joyful and thankful and ecstatic about Christmas. So! Much! Joy! Pah-rum-pa-dum-dum, so many tidings of joy, right? Maybe not for everyone.

Just this week, two of my friends have had family members die. One lost an uncle, the other his dad. I met a random couple at our hotel building while riding the elevator last week. Most of the guest are gone in a day or two, but this older couple from North Dakota have been in our building for at least a week. Maybe more. Chatting with the Mom yesterday, she told me they are in Billings for their daughters second round of chemo. And it didn't seem to be going well.

Other people I know are struggling financially and the pressure of delivering an adequate Christmas for their kids is overwhelming. The stress is real. While other kids are getting $300 AirPods, these moms and dads are hoping their kids will be happy with a few meager gifts.

Others are alone, figuratively or otherwise. Senior citizens come to mind, but I know lots of people that are flying solo in the Magic City and I wish I could invite all of them over to my humble home for Christmas.

My heart goes out to those that are struggling with issues over the holidays. I wish I had easy answers for sadness and holiday depression, but I don't. Web MD offers some advice that includes:

19 tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  1. Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.

  2. Set realistic goals for yourself.

  3. Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.

  4. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.

  5. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.

  6. Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.

  7. Live and enjoy the present.

  8. Look to the future with optimism.

  9. Don't set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.

  10. If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.

  11. Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether it's a snowflake or a raindrop.

  12. Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.

  13. Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.

  14. Spend time with supportive and caring people.

  15. Reach out and make new friends.

  16. Make time to contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.

  17. Make time for yourself!

  18. Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.

  19. Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

I guess if I could offer one piece of advice this holiday season it would be this: be kind. Be kind to people who may be struggling. Be kind to those who have lost a loved one and are feeling that loss at Christmas. Be kind to the single mom who is doing what she can to give her kids an awesome Christmas. Be kind to those that have no family gathering to attend. Be kind, my friend.

Credit: Michael Foth TSM