That may be obvious for those who are on the streets or in shelters. We call them “the poor” or “the needy.” And there are people, churches, and other organizations who reach out to these folks in a humanitarian way to make sure these people are fed and given a gift to open so they can feel the love. They also receive the opportunity of connection and to say, “Thank you.”
But there is another group who is truly “forgotten.” They are the people who live alone. They may be a family member, a friend, or a coworker. Men and women. Professional business people in suits. Some are are quite “successful,” by others’ definition of the word.
You believe that they are “all-together,” because you see them in their element–work, professionalism, dressed in suits, and always getting things done. You see them as popular, friendly, bold, and outgoing. You assume that they know so many people that they are turning down oodles of invitations.
You call or text them to leave a message wishing them “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” You may even give them a card, wishing them a Hallmark-inscribed wonderful holiday season, signed simply with your name.
What you do NOT see from these forgotten folks:
No tree. No decorations. No music. No cards. No twinkling lights. No traditions. No merry-making
They avoid the malls, resisting the temptation to spend money to buy for people who will say, “You shouldn’t have. I didn’t get you anything,” so that someone else doesn’t feel guilty for not having a gift. And then that robs them of joy, so they buy it anyway to give you later.
They drive around for hours in the dark, wondering where they can find others who are in the same situation, but avoiding the bars and restaurants, because people bring their holiday parties to those venues. They stop for a bite to eat anyway, which they don’t enjoy or finish, and go home to make a grilled cheese sandwich.
They get through the days and nights during the season by watching anything on television that won’t remind them of people getting together for holiday merriment. And they feel unimportant to those who claim they love them, at least not enough to be included with other friends and family.
And you won’t suspect the pain they feel by lying to you when you ask them, “Did you have a good Christmas?” They always smile and say, “Yes! It was quiet, but lovely.”
If you ask them what they did or where they went, they will struggle with whether or not they will make up a story. Or they will tell you that they did not do anything special, and you will respond with, “I wish I would have known! I would have invited you.”
But they know it’s the same conversation year-after-year, and they will always reply with, “No worries. There will always be next time. Let’s get-together soon, okay?” You agree.
They will try to reach out to some people–friends or family– but find that others “have no time”–not even an hour for a cup of coffee or an exchange of hugs and a gift. Then they will have a good cry and then bolster up and make sure that different plans are mapped out for a different year next year. And they hold out for hope in the following year.
And so it goes for the “forgotten” during the holiday season.
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Copyright © 2013 Coral Levang, and not to be used without permission.
Photo credit: By Harry French [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons