Feeling lonely at Christmas
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Feeling lonely at Christmas

It was like something out of one of those Hallmark B-list Christmas films that everyone inevitably ends up watching at Christmastime, the ones which creep up on you while you’re on your way to Snoozeville and one of your woolly socks has fallen off.

I was sitting at a café alone waiting for a hot chocolate when I heard muffled sobbing from the table next to me. To be honest, I didn’t look up straight away, but after three uninterrupted minutes of wounded whimpers and no consoling sounds following them, I decided to turn around and see what was going on.

There, on the table next to me was a little old lady. When it became apparent that she was alone, I decided to go and sit next to her and ask if she was okay; what followed is the subject I would like to bring up today.

Mary is a widow whose husband died seven years ago. She has two children. A son who lives in England with his wife and two children and a daughter who lives in Malta but who has fallen out with her mother over her inheritance. They haven’t spoken in five years. For the last five Christmases, Mary has spent her day completely alone. She wakes up, goes to mass and has a solitary chicken lunch; she then spends most of the day crying till she falls into an exhausted sleep.

Even if you are still hurt, give yourself the gift of forgiveness and feel lighter this Christmas

The sad part is that she’s not alone. In 2014, British charities stated that half a million elderly people would be spending Christmas alone and although I don’t have any local statistics in hand, if the stories I have heard recently are to be believed, then our numbers have risen considerably over the last few years.

Far be it for me to act like a pulpit preacher, but I really didn’t want to miss this opportunity to say a few words. I am aware that people sometimes hurt each other; I am also aware that when it comes from family, the wounds run a lot deeper, however, believe me when I say that the older you get, the less things you fought over 10 years ago matter. Life is short and none of us will be taking anything to our graves but the love and patience that we have given each other.

If you have fought with your mother over things which were said in anger five years ago, let it go.  Even if you are still hurt, give yourself the gift of forgiveness and feel lighter this Christmas. Focus on the positive instead of the negative.  There are many families in Malta who are divided but they don’t have to remain that way.

Pride is a cold bedfellow and an empty one. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Instead of focusing on whether or not you have enough food for all the people who you feel haven’t wronged you, give that which is so much harder: yourself. It’s always the first step which is the hardest. 

I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years - may you all start it the right way.

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