Senior Musings November 2010

Posted 11.30.10

Holiday Blues

BobbiAs the days get shorter and winter chill sets in, many people look forward to the holidays. But if your family is too far away for you to see them for Christmas, it can be easy to become depressed. Often, it seems everybody else is being invited to parties, while your friends are pre-occupied with their families or traveling south.

Psychologists will tell you that depression is common, especially in seniors, from November through February. It's easy to understand why, but there are also ways to overcome this.

One problem is our expectations. We may find ourselves without the financial resources to buy the kinds of gifts we used to give, without sufficient energy to entertain, and with too small a circle of friends to draw upon when our closest contacts aren't available.

The solution to budget restraints can be as easy as your own closets and cupboards. Instead of buying a gift for your niece, look in your china cabinet. I bet you'll find a lovely serving bowl, candy dish, or other item she would enjoy. You will still have given a gift that's useful and will remind her of you.

Raid your collection of scarves and jewelry for teen girls. See if the boys are interested in any of the tools in the basement you never use any more. And find books among your favorites to share with younger children.

Another source of stress is receiving gifts that are often inappropriate. Drop broad hints to family that what you'd really like are gift certificates to restaurants, movie theatres, or other places you enjoy. Urge them to give you edible gifts. It's wonderful to open a box or basket of assorted teas, biscuits, cookies, or other items you wouldn't indulge in normally. Those gifts will also allow you to entertain friends who drop in.

If you're going to be alone for any holiday, plan in advance so you won't be lonely or feel abandoned. Volunteer at a charity that feeds the homeless. Or if you aren't able to get out, create your own special day at home. Put on music you love, or pop in a DVD of a movie you've borrowed or rented for the occasion. Consult friends and family about exchanging DVDs for this purpose.

Buy ingredients for a special meal. One of my favorites is a boneless, stuffed turkey breast. But this might be the time to indulge in lobster, or forget considerations of calories and cholesterol and order in a pizza. How about ordering Chinese food?

I always make sure my special meal will stretch over three days. My birthday is Dec. 23, so I try to prepare something for that evening to also have on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Dress to suit the occasion. Nothing adds to depression like catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror looking bedraggled. Comfortable but attractive lounge wear and comfortable slippers that don't look as if the dog chewed them will make you feel better, and you won't be embarrassed if somebody does drop in.

Many of us who live alone have to work hard to fight depression. But remember, only YOU can make you happy.

Check out Bobbi's website at www.SimonTeakettle.com, and e-mail her at BFG at SimonTeakettle.com

Copyright © 2010 Barbara Florio Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.10