Holidays: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
Founder and President of Upstage Lung Cancer
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens,
A Tale of Two Cities ,1859
Could it be said any better? Dicken’s account was from 161 years ago, but it fits our current times to a tee. I think most people living today would vote the year 2020 as one the most dreadful in their lifetimes. All around us we’re faced with political discord, enhanced awareness of racism and economic disparity and a pandemic that grows more out of control. Everyone faces the stressful challenge of physical and emotional survival while combatting isolation each day.
Now comes the holiday season. Getting together with family and friends makes this season one that inspires love, connection and traditions. While it is a season that can inspire its own stress, many people look forward to this time of year as a time of renewal with those who mean the most to us. This year, chances are that our holiday celebrations won’t be in person. My own family and friends are spread out across the country, and some are in Europe, so I am used to not being together during the holidays. But this year there isn’t even a choice to go visit. As a lung cancer survivor, I wouldn’t risk the possibility of coming into contact with Covid-19.
As with the Dicken’s quote, I’ve found myself in the roller coaster of feeling okay one day and deeply sad the next day about all the pain and suffering in the world. So, being a determined person, I’ve searched for ways to enhance my sense of wellbeing. Some of my choices are studying French with my tutor, tackling a 1000-piece puzzle, searching for series to watch on Netflix, taking distanced walks with masks with a friend. The best of times during this year have been using Zoom to see my family and friends. There have even been occasions to get my whole family together, something that hasn’t happened for many years! And I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to my wonderful puppy, Louise Tucker, who makes me laugh every single day.
I reached out to some friends to see how they were managing the holidays this year. Here are some of their thoughts:
- Stay in touch with people and look for classes online from your community to stay connected and to keep your mind busy.
- Try new recipes and call people every day.
- ind community group meetings or religious services
- Cancel traditionally large gatherings and write notes to each person to invite them for the holidays, 2021.
- This year is like no other, and it is too much to tolerate alone. Reach out to a therapist.
- Listen to or make music every day and find a way to laugh.
The consensus is that the best way to inoculate yourself emotionally during the pandemic, and especially during the holidays, is to try to connect with other people. You know the song, “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.” It’s ok to reach out, actually important to reach out and acknowledge that we’re all in this together.
My friend Bonnie said, “In these troubled times it can be a bit depressing. BUT we must remember that we lose tomorrow reaching back for yesterday.” I agree. We can’t look back and think that what’s ahead for us is going to look normal. BUT, looking forward is an opportunity for working harder to mend differences between people. We’ll see what the near future holds as it unfolds.
Finally, words that were told to me that have stayed with me since I was a young child are, “Take a long walk, read a good book and make a new friend.”