Thursday, December 08, 2005

How Do You Stay Encouraged?

At this time of the year, we're supposed to all be happy, merry, joyous, and celebrating the yuletide gay. For the most part, I am... though I have my days and my doubts at times. We all do.

A couple days ago I started thinking about the Katrina survivors and what this time of year must be for many of them, compared to this time last year. In fact, I saw this story about depression among Katrina survivors being a major issue and that the mental impact of the hurricane hasn't been thoroughly addressed. And I wonder... how do they stay encouraged knowing their lives are completely different than a year ago... completely different than they ever imagined?

I talked with a friend yesterday, and we talked about how part of our "ungh" feeling during the holidays is that we feel torn between the materialistic aspects of the holiday season in the U.S. and not fully participating in those aspects. I mean... we can't afford the Oprah's Favorite Things list, or similar goods that supposedly make for a great holiday season. And that brings the guilt factor...

And then I had a couple heart-to-hearts with students, primarily gay and lesbian students, who are NOT looking forward to holiday break and dealing with family dynamics for the next month or so. That even though we have more positive images of LGBT folks in media and magazines, that some family attitudes haven't changed... and they feel like they'll be acting out strange roles (i.e. not being themselves) over the holidays. Some good tips in this story.

Then let's not go there with the angst some feel over the year that was, the relationship that was, the weight loss that was, the life change that was (or was not...) Seems like there's a whole lot of reflection going on at this time of year.

So with all this lies the paradox of the winter holidays. Even though we know there are some highly spiritual reasons many people, including myself, celebrate and honor this time of year, media and popular culture tell us we should be happy, merry, joyous, and celebrating the yuletide gay... spending tons of money. And it causes a lot of dissonance for a lot of people.

How do you stay encouraged? How do make sure those around you are okay... and not just going through the motions?

Some sites I visit at times: Jewel Diamond Taylor, Herndon Davis, Cheryl Richardson, Network For Good. Image from Anne Taintor.


Unconquerable Soul said...

thanks for this post.. a brotha needs that

N4R said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
N4R said...

Yeah this holiday is tough especially with the materialistic aspect you mentioned but luckily enough my family all agreed we are broke this season and not to expect anything. Boy did that take off the pressure. We kept it simple on Thanksgiving so we could just go all out for Christmas Dinner. That is how we are gonna keep the pressure off. I think it will do wonders. Next year can be better as far as gifts but I think this Christmas will be one of our most memorable.

This was a great post man. I try to always stay encouraged. What else can you do?

Marz said...

First, the card is hilarious.

Second, I've been thinking about the Katrina victims during Christmas time. I'm going to donate some money, do something charitable to help them.

Last, for people who expect soemthing, tell them this year you're celebrating Kwanzaa and make them a bracelet.(LOL)


Frederick Smith said...

This is a tough holiday for a lot of folks I know... and this year seems to be compounded with the state of the world and country.

I hope all of you will find cool and supportive people to be around... don't be alone, if you can avoid it. But don't overdose on people if that's not your thing either.