Believe it or not, the holidays can be one of the loneliest times of the year for some.
During the holidays, there seems to be an expectation for everyone to happy and gathered together with family and loved ones. Commercials shown on television during the months of November and December depict images of what a family is supposed to look like during the holidays. Children are dressed in flannel pajamas and hovered over coveted gifts that are propped under a large, lit tree, while Mom and Dad drink hot chocolate and share Eskimo kisses. Images that present expectations like that to those who do not have a place to go or family to celebrate with during the holidays can be depressing. It can make a person feel even more alone. Loneliness can be quite painful.
Students who live far away from home, those who can’t afford to go home for the holidays, parents of children that have left home, the elderly and sick may experience feelings of loneliness during the holidays. When you do not have a place to go for the holidays, it is easy to feel isolated when it seems as though everyone else is having a joyous holiday with his or her closest friends and families.
When I was in college, many of my friends and associates would go home to be with their families during the holidays. Most of my family lived in other states. Not many of them were nearby. When I was in school, I lived on a strict budget that did not include enough money for me to be able to travel home on every holiday vacation. Therefore, the holidays were a time when I felt very lonely. Most of the time, I couldn’t get away to see family, even if it was just for a vacation.
After my Freshman year, I made more friends and I began to notice that some of them did not go home for the holidays. They either had family that lived too far away, their families did not celebrate holidays and it did not seem to matter if they went home or not, or some of them were not be able to afford to travel home. We noticed that more of us were staying at school and in our apartments alone during a time when togetherness is celebrated.
We decided to create our own holiday to help with the loneliness. Instead of staying inside of our dorms and apartments alone, we decided to spend the holidays together. We gathered at my apartment and each friend would bring a dish and beverages. If a game was on television, we’d watch together while we gathered for our holiday feast. We played board games, sang karaoke, and dance. Before we knew it, the loneliness dissipated.
We called our gatherings “The Rejects’ Holiday”. It wasn’t because we felt rejected. We felt empowered and blessed to have the support of real friends that became more and more like family each year we celebrated the holidays together.
Every year we did this brought us closer together. We became like family. Although, we are adults now and we have created families of our own to celebrate with on holidays. We still get together every now and then for our rejects holiday.
Felicia Johnson is a youth advocate, mentor and behavioral health worker and author of HER. She works in Atlanta with the Highlands Institute and volunteers with Youth Villages Inner Harbour and Personality Disorder Awareness Network. Johnson was nominated for the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Award of 2014 and Her has been nominated for Georgia Writer’s Association Author of The Year Award. If you are interesting in contacting her she is available for speaking engagements and content creation. Please follow Felicia at the following links: www.herthebook.com facebook.com/feliciajohnson and Twitter@herthebook Email: firstname.lastname@example.org