There is a huge difference between depression and simply being sad. Sadness is a normal part of life and we all go through it. This time of year seems to bring on depression or bouts of it, for various reasons.
We could even call it “seasonal depression.”
As we age we lose people that we love.
Now, when the holidays come around or those other family events which bring everyone together; we think of those that are no longer with us. There at that certain spot, sits an empty chair which they should be in.
Looking into the “mirror of time” will not bring those people back. Those memories that we keep alive are what we still hang onto them with, and that is OK ; but not to focus on.
I personally have small mementos of those that I have lost, which I see daily. On one of my desk there sits this absolutely hideous lamp that one of my Uncles bought his wife as a gift. The shade is painted with some sort of pattern and I have to agree with my aunt, is it pretty terrible. His taste however; was not hers… Every time I see that lamp; I think of him, who I loved; and chuckle.
In another part of my house there is a small wooden wheel barrel that my grandfather made. He made it for my aunt when she was a little girl, who is also gone. When I see it…I think of him and her…and smile. I took it down the other day and dusted it… I noticed the fine workmanship that went into it and imagined my grandfather making it, some 80 years ago.
There is an old kitchen clock that was made in 1912 that my grandmother bought for her kitchen; while visiting New York in 1912. That clock sits in the Den. I never knew her but; I know that I would have loved her…From stories of her…she sounds a lot like me.
If I went through the complete list of stuff from the many in my life that I have loved, some might conclude that I was a hoarder. I hoard the memories of those that I loved, and sometimes I keep too many reminders of them. Pictures here and there of them, is really all we need but…that is just the way it goes.
My grandfather used to fish in the Mississippi not far from where he lived. He left me his tackle box which I still have. I open it every now and then, and gaze upon the things inside.
He was not a rich man but, here in this box is a wealth of stories and love… There is a history of taking me fishing when I was barely out of three cornered pants. A history of comforting a crying child who was just bitten by a horsefly stopping the bleeding followed by a history of teaching me how to catch a horse fly without getting bitten, and placing it on a hook and catching my first fish.
There are other stories of comforting a small child who hurt themselves, by spilling an entire wheel barrel full of leaves, that he had just picked up while trying to help.
There was my first taste of beer from his can while building our lake house. I was maybe 4 at the time and I remember the taste of it. I searched for years to find out that it was PBR…
From watching Saturday night wrestling with him, to listening to baseball games on a huge floor model radio…they are all there…tucked neatly away in that tackle box of life.
His sunglasses, old wire frame glasses, along with his lucky coin are two of the first two things that jump out at me. There are different lures and even a reel or two; still in their original box along with line that has to be older than me. I picture him walking from his house, to the bank of the Mississippi, pulling some sort of fish out of that river… He loved to fish …
After getting my “grandpa” fix, I carefully put everything back, just as I found it, and tuck it away until I find myself thinking of him… needing another fix, reminding me of the humanity of an old fashion, soft spoken man, who would give anyone that needed it, the shirt off of his back.
On one of my bookshelves there is this old plastic fisherman with a wire attached that has a small yellow plastic fish on it that used to adorn a shelf in his house. I am certain that it was a gift from someone who loved him. Daily; it is my reminder to be gentle, soft spoken and try to exude some of the wisdom, caring and compassion that I learned from this man. It is my reminder to not take myself too seriously, and to laugh…
Each year it seems that the Christmas card lists gets shorter, as more and more leave us.
Not only do we have our family and friends but, we too are effected by those that we come to love from the silver screen, and now of course the flat screen that entertains us. We grieve for those too; and each day it seems more of them are leaving…
Christmas music seems to bring on depression for me; so I limit my exposure to it.
This year, 2015; four of my good friends have passed. I have mementos of them and I even have a hat that one of them gave me that honors Reagan, who he was a fan of. I wear that hat from time to time just because I am thinking of the person who gave it to me.
I’ll be home for Christmas is a downer… Songs…good songs bring out emotions in people and that one makes me sad. I have been away at Christmas before, and it too reminds me of those that won’t be home for Christmas. When we turn this time into a time for “stuff” it really again shows the worst in some of us, with black Friday deals and “stuff!”
We can choose….
I choose to acknowledge them…and then look forward to time spent with those that are still here and of course those that I have yet to meet. I look forward to the memories that I have yet to make. I make damned certain that I smile at those that seem to be having a hard time, and learn everyone’s name that I come into contact with if, only to use it once during a conversation with them. From wait staff to the person checking you out at the store…They have a name and it is not “you there…or hey!”
Tonight I went to dinner with 3 of my close friends as a pre-holiday get together. We shared a few laughs, and I valued that time as it will never come around again. The waiter…Ross… I made sure to include him in the conversation when appropriate, and let him know that he was appreciated, not only by saying so but; by tipping in way that he knew how I felt.
Every one of us has some sort of personal battle going on. You have no idea what it is. Some of us honk ruthlessly and drive terribly because we feel that we are more important than others. We cut people off and we… “let’s face it; show our ass…”
“You don’t know what that person who you just did that to, is going through in their life…”
Lead by Example
When I managed people, I managed by leading by example. I was a “hands on kind of guy” and I would purposefully involve myself in the worst jobs that we had to contend with, to show that no job was too small or insignificant. Nobody is too small or trivial to be marginalized by given the “shit jobs.”
I made a point to know the cleaning crew’s names as well as the lady that watered the plants… We are all worthy of being treated as such; if you think we are not, your moral compass is out of whack!
We as people need to lead by example when we drive, engage with people and yes…be nice to the poor cashier who has to put up with impatient people, and company policies which require them to get information from you so they can market to you via e-mail or other such methods. Their arms are twisted to do it… The wait staff are forced to up-sell you into buying cobbler or some other dessert that you don’t really want. They are told to ask, and I am certain that they are measured in some quantitative way by how many they sell.
- Stop looking into the rear view mirror of life.
- Enjoy what you do, and how you spend your time.
- Make time to enjoy the day…
- Acknowledge those around you and tell them thank you!
- Serve others; and by all means treat others as you want to be treated.
- If depression is bothering you…do this….
- Set regular sleep hours and keep them. Stop any caffeine after 3pm.
- Get up every morning and go greet the sun. Your body needs at least 15 minutes of light to set your clock.
- Don’t stress over things that you cannot control.
- Do your best, give your schooling or job your bests, and don’t worry.
- Love and laugh often. Laughter is medicine that is cheap, and requires no prescription.
You are worthy of the best… Don’t let anyone tell you differently…
We can make it through this season…Remember it is not about gifts, or what someone is going to do for you…It is about giving of yourself. I like to try and make someone’s life a little better each and every day… Even if it is just a kind word…. Or some encouragement. Follow that lead….