Hope After the Holidays

HOPE AFTER THE HOLIDAYSthoughts from a fellow journeyman

OK, the visitors have gone, the packages remain, decorations will soon come down…the radio will continue to play holiday songs for a week or so, but somehow, in some way, there is an emptiness inside.

What is that void, that emptiness we often feel in January? Well, for some of us, it is “empty wallets” as the bills are paid and we remember the financial challenges of the season. But what else? For some families, we say goodbye to visitors from afar, who we might not see again for a while.   For unemployed workers, holidays’ “afterglow” is another loss they must endure, along with loss of income, social connections and routine.


As a relative newcomer to Upper New York State, I am still getting used to the winter activities, or lack thereof, in the region. I love the outdoors, but not really the bitter cold and travel challenges that go with the winter here. I too, am in search of a greater appreciation for the season and its value.


Of course, there are the indoor sports, hobbies, reading and of course, the Internet/computer to help entertain us during the winter doldrums. Many of these events and opportunities for personal growth and fun can be found in magazines, on television or associations you might be a member of. There is no easy answer to the questions and challenges of adjustment and loss, but there are some basics to embrace and focus on; they include:

  • Savor the moment. Too often, many of us strive for improvements and career enhancements, etc. In this season, the focus of material goods help the national economy and keep people at work…making the stuff we purchase, collect and ultimately, must rid ourselves of later in life. As you know, life can change in a heartbeat, embrace the moment! Enjoy today, for tomorrow might be different….better or worse, who’s to say.
  • Focus on your “core”. We frequently become our worst critics and consequently, do not give ourselves the support and encouragement we need. We need to become our own best friend and truest ally. In my opinion, genuine success is realized when we have become the person we always admired in others! It is nice to please others, we cannot always satisfy everyone’s expectations of US; consequently, we must satisfy our OWN expectations. Learn to appreciate and yes, LOVE yourself.
  • Strive for health and happiness, not perfection. While it is admirable to strive for perfection and the ideal, it is frequently unhealthy and the journey itself can create unhappiness…and immune issues. Realistic goals and attainable objectives can reduce stress, anxiety and improve wellness.
  • Look for ways to help others. Every day, there are opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others; whether at the store, school, the retirement community or by calling others on the phone. (Internet not required) It is amazing how good you will feel, when doing for another person…without obligation or expectation!!

In this season of being thankful, giving and receiving gifts, we all have a treasure trove of precious and priceless gifts to share with others….OURSELVES. Be genuine, be sincere…be YOURSELF! Strive to become the caring person you truly are!


In the Bleak Midwinter has become my holiday favorite and my signature song to perform during Christmas. It reminds us that when we have little to give of a material or financial nature, the MOST precious and priceless gift remains

Lyrics taken from “In the Bleak Midwinter”—

“….what can I give Him, poor as I am. If I were a Shepard, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Then, what can I give Him…give my heart.”


CHUCK OAKES is a Stephen Minister, consultant, speaker and author on aging matters. His latest book, YOUR HOME, YOUR CASTLE, prepares families for homecare of their aging loved ones and is now available from Amazon and Kindle. For more information—518-280-6077       chuck@chuckoakes.com