Seasonal Misery

Phew! Now I love this time of year and season. I enjoy the cold. There’s something refreshing about a tear-making icy stiff breeze of wind. I even love to shovel the driveway when it’s knee high deep with wet snow. (Wet snow is so much heavier than dry.) It’s interesting to wait for Spring to come around and see how many people gave themselves heart attacks and strokes from shoveling snow.

Ah winter.

This season also brings the usual maladies: overeating, over drinking, depression, loneliness, arthritic maladies, and the flu. There are plenty more.

It’s easy to have an emotional hangover around this time of year. I think it starts around Labor Day, gathers momentum around Thanksgiving before hitting the wall on New Year’s Eve.

See, for a number of people, Thanksgiving can be one of the loneliest holiday of all. Why? It’s about family and friends coming together. Well, imagine if you are part of the growing number of Americans without friends, family, spouse or even a supportive network.

The following I borrowed from USA TODAY:

25% of Americans have no one to confide in.

The Review General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago surveyed 1,531 people in 1985 and 1,467 in 2004.

In 1985, the average American had three people in whom to confide matters that were important to them. In 2004, that number dropped to two, and one in four had no close confidants at all.

The percentage of people who confide only in family increased from 57% to 80%, and the number who depend totally on a spouse is up from 5% to 9%, the study found.

The chief suspects: More people live in the suburbs and spend more time at work, Putnam says, leaving less time to socialize or join groups.

I think it is more than that. Socializing is an art. Getting along with others is an acquired skill. Being a host/hostess is something that people no longer bother doing. Relationships – of all kinds – takes work.

The media, which serves as public educator, has the unfortunate habit of only describing how to network. You learn how to network to use people, but not how to maintain good relationships with people. We are a user-centric society, no longer a good-friend society.

When I was growing up, there was no lack of parties, weddings, social events that I was invited to and went to (chaperoned of course). I have a very large family.

Now, I’m not someone whose phone rings off the hook, but I take it for granted that I always can find someone to connect with and talk to – if I wanted. I’m not the extroverted type, I suppose if I was my phone would be ringing off the hook.

Well, it does, but I don’t answer it.

I write this, because I received a call from a friend and I realized that this time of year, in this country, can be hard on an immigrant (or American) who doesn’t have a well-connected, satisfying and emotionally balanced life. I don’t have any remedies, but I am thinking of those people – of you – who feel a bit down.

But like my Mom once said, “Some people are miserable all year, but at this time of year they are even more miserable.”