The holiday season is nearly here and with it, images of families and togetherness are everywhere; on TV, in newspapers, magazines, and movies, the images repeatedly shown are of families planning for and celebrating the holidays – together.
So what does it mean for those of us who do not see our lives reflected in those images? What about those who don’t have family nearby, or who have perhaps recently lost a loved one and no longer connect with the traditional images of family?
Blood relatives often have nothing to do with family, and similarly, family is about who you choose to make your life with – Oliver Hudson
Being alone is not typically what we see celebrated during the holiday season, and the meaning of family takes on special significance when being part of one is such a big part of this time of year. Outside of the world of advertising, the reality of family for many of us means whoever cares for us and for whom we care for the most – and it’s not necessarily relatives who fill this role.
Friends are relatives you make for yourself – Eustache Deschamps
Keeping it real during the holidays means celebrating with the family of your choice or of your making. When we are alone, either by choice or by circumstance, we are our own family, and good friends can be the family we choose for ourselves, and can be our most-trusted support systems. Many of us value our pets, with their undying loyalty and unconditional love, as family members, while for others, family may be the community we are part of – a close-knit neighbourhood, church group, or other affiliation. Connecting with others in ways that make us part of a network, something a bit larger than ourselves, can be especially important during this time of year when we may feel the lack of familial connection more than usual.
The holidays don’t have to be all about the family you were born into… it’s a time to celebrate the special people in your life, no matter who they are. Surround yourself with the people who matter most, and take the time to be grateful for all those people, including yourself, and to let them know what they mean to you. If you don’t have these support systems in place but still want to share your holidays, you can still surround yourself with people – volunteer with a local charity, or find out if a neighbour or colleague is also spending the holidays alone and invite them for dinner.
If the holiday season is really getting to you this year, don’t hesitate to seek out help. Our call centre is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. A friendly voice is just a phone call away – 1 866 833-7690.