Millions of people feel lonely during the holidays. Loneliness, an emotion, like all emotions can be a bit tricky to describe. We know it’s real, like love or anger, or happiness, but find it a bit slippery to describe. Emotions are subjective and trying to pin them down is like trying to sew a button on a poached egg. Doesn’t always go well. And the holidays can compound the slippery feeling. For some folks, the holidays are depressing and they often feel alone, even if they are with family and friends. Other folks can’t wait for the holidays and the time  together with those same family and friends.

While there are plenty of prescriptions for how to make your holidays better and more enjoyable, I believe you will have to focus on the quality of your relationships to get the most out of the holidays. The best selling author, Adam Grant agrees with me.

The best cure for loneliness is not more frequent interaction. It’s more meaningful interaction. Many people enjoy solitude. We can spend up to 75% of our time alone without feeling isolated. What matters most for well-being is the quality of our connections, not the quantity.

I think he’s on to something most of us already know. It’s about the relationships. What we often struggle with, is how to enjoy those relationships. My advice, just go love them. Do you have to hang out with someone that has hurt you, lied to you, even betrayed you? You don’t have to be around them much, or at all, but if you do, make it a quality time from your side. Love them. At a distance if need be, but show them love. And here is a little secret, the cure, for loneliness is to love others. 

My first Christmas away from home was spent in the barracks on the Army Air Field in Savannah Georgia. No friends, no gifts, no one to talk to. The other soldiers went home on leave and I had the Baracks to myself. I even watched college football on a black and white tv, all pretty boring stuff since I was so desperate for companionship. I was very lonely.

Things have improved a lot since then. Having a family made the biggest difference for me. If you have some family nearby, hopefully you can enjoy being with them. If you have no one to be with, hopefully you can enjoy being with yourself, or find a way to mingle with others, at the park or church or party.

The loneliest times in my life can be traced back to the times when I was only interested in who cares for me. As the years went by, I learned to give and care a lot more for others. As life went on, that became my daily reason for living, and during the holidays, the reason for the season.

Once again, the Life of the Good Shepherd gives me hope. He brings us together in relationships, or flocks you might say. He provides for us. He teaches us to love, when it’s easy and when it’s not. May your holidays be filled with inclusive love and awareness that you are not alone.