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Samantha Jones

Sam's Notebook

Samantha Jones is a former associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers.

Opinion

Surviving the holidays

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Itís the most wonderful time of the year, as the classic Christmas song goes. Houses are immaculately decorated, children are sending wish lists to Santa and the Hallmark Channel is playing Christmas movies nonstop. Yes, for many, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

And for some, itís the most dreaded. My paternal grandmother, lovingly called ďMamaw,Ē is one of those people. Every year, she becomes increasingly depressed as the holiday season creeps in. Itís palpable when we visit in person. Sheís always excited to see us, but I can tell something is off. Despite her best efforts to be happy, sadness seeps through like rainwater on a damaged roof.

It wasnít always this way. When I was young, she put up a tree and wrapped gifts and made more pies than any one family can eat. I vividly remember opening gifts in her living room, sitting on the floor with my cousin as the video camera recorded everything. Sometimes we watch those old home videos over Christmas, but itís been awhile.

What changed? Everything. My cousins and I grew up and the magic of Christmas faded. Extended family members created new families and traditions. We stopped gathering as a big unit. My great-grandmother died when I was 6, and my great-grandfather died when I was 18.

Mamaw didnít know what to do with her parents gone. They were extremely close ó figuratively and literally. They lived on the same property and saw each other daily. Mamawís mother died on Dec. 31, 1998, just a week after Christmas.

Mamaw cared for her father in his final days. He died two months after Christmas in 2010 and Mamaw has never been the same.

Christmas used to be a time of togetherness. These days, the holiday season is a stark reminder of everyone who canít be there ó not just because they are gone, but because they left so close to Christmastime.

That experience isnít unique to Mamaw. Iíd wager that most of you have felt a tinge of sadness around the holidays, whether youíre missing someone who has passed on or feel lonely seeing so many large gatherings. Some of us donít have large families to celebrate the holidays with. Others donít have any family at all.

Social media has only exacerbated the problem. Everyone shares their family photos on Facebook and Instagram, and itís easy to compare their situation to yours. When weíre unhappy, comparisons abound. Iím guilty of that, and I bet you are, too. Itís never easy to accept loneliness, but the holidays make it especially difficult.

I wish a solution existed for holiday sadness, but it seems the best we can do is get through it. Thatís not necessarily a pessimistic view. If you are struggling and find your way through a stressful situation, thatís pretty awesome! Sometimes, getting through the day is an accomplishment ó a big accomplishment, if you ask me.

This holiday season, I am wishing that all of you find something to smile about. Maybe itís a big family gathering. Maybe itís a small dinner with friends. Maybe itís a bowl of ramen and your favorite action movie. Whatever it is, I hope you take care of yourself.

And if you find yourself feeling like nobody cares about you, I hope you know that this small town newspaper editor cares deeply for every single person who comes across this column. Yes, that includes you!

As always, I am wishing you all health, happiness and the strength to overcome anything that stands in your way.