I am not really ready for the Holidays. Not that I am any other year. But this year mostly because I don’t think I have anything to get ready for this year. It seems like it isn’t really a thing this year, for me at least. I have a couple of little things bought for gifts, but it’s like not really a thing I am too stressed about.

We have a Secret Santa thing going at work. Turns out these things aren’t so secret, really. Everyone seems to know who has who, who got what and who is giving what to who, and I am lost. It’s fun, but some people are sneakier than others, some people don’t like who they got, and it is a whole thing. I like keeping these little secrets, so I try to be clever, but that only gets you so far. It is the one thing I am clinging to, however, to get this holiday spirit going. It is working in small spurts, so I hope for the best. We have our party for the holiday this coming Friday. I will report back if I get any Holiday Joy out of the thing. (I am sure I will!)

I think a lot of people are struggling with it this year, more than usual. Even my Christmas Crazy friends don’t seem so crazy this year. We haven’t exactly been having December weather so far, which makes it hard to believe it is really time for the holidays. It is snowing a little here today, I am not thrilled, but at least now I can buy into the fact that it is December.

I watched “A Christmas Story” last weekend. And of course I will catch it when it is on for 24 hours on Christmas, that is just tradition now. That usually helps my holiday spirit a little. I need to find “It’s A Wonderful Life” on somewhere, that should amp things up for me a little. When Harry Bailey toasts George at the end, I turn into a puddle. That’s the best part to me, and that’s when my Grinch Heart grows out of the little box. Yes, I am mixing my metaphors or Christmas movies, but that is what it takes for me, so just don’t worry about it.

I am worried about my restaurant friends this year. A lot. People really rely on the extra income that comes in around this time of year. I am feeling the pinch, but I have a steady enough income that I will be ok. Things aren’t ok for the service industry. Even if we aren’t “shut down” here in Wisconsin, things are slow. There are states, quite a few right now, that are locking them down, carryout only, and that is going to cripple some people financially. The employees and the restaurants they work for. If you can, get out and support them in any way you can. For the well established places, I would say buy some gift cards, but for small places, buy actual food and things now. They may not make it to a point where people can use those gift cards. If you do carryout, please tip, please. A lot of people don’t think to do that, and it doesn’t have to be a lot, but something. There is more work to putting together a carryout than you realize, and the little gratuity means a lot. Tip more if you can, but something is better than nothing. As I sit here today, I have no idea if I will ever be back working in a bar or restaurant. I miss it and my restaurant family incredibly, and I am thankful to be in a steady job working for a good company, but a lot of my “people” are still in that industry, and I want them to make it. Help them if you can.

This Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, try to make it less about stuff and more about people. I think a lot of people are hurting, particularly mentally right now. A friend posted that she had a full out panic attack yesterday. My heart just broke reading it, she had been holding things together pretty well through this whole thing. She will be ok, she has good people, lots of them. But I get it. Big time. It can be such an overwhelming time right now without a pandemic. But it can really take over your soul, and break you down with all that is going on. So if you feel the struggle, or know of someone who is feeling it, reach out a hand. Encourage them, lift them up. Little gestures mean a lot, truly. More this year than any I can remember, people are just a little lost, and giving them a little of your light can probably be the North Star if they need that lift.

I am doing ok, all things considered. I keep muscling ahead and I have some good people around me. I want everyone to come out of this healthy, and that includes the mental health aspect of it. There is help out there is you don’t have a support system built in. Resources are available, and if you can read this, I want to be one for you. Reach out, I am around, and if I don’t know an answer, I will help you find one. Holidays are hard anyway, you don’t need extra weight other than what you get from the cookies. That is a thing to tackle next month, today we want to handle what might make you struggle. I hope you have a magical holiday season, and if not magical, then at least functional. We can get there, together.

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