For a lot of Americans, this is the worst time of the year. If you don't have any money, it can be really hard to hear others go on and on about how good "Santa Claus" was to them this year. For many, there is simply not much to be cheerful about as the year ends. There are millions of people in this country that do not have a "happy family" to spend the holidays with, there are millions of people in this country that do not have any money to spend on gifts, and there are millions of people that are either already sleeping in the streets or that are in imminent danger of losing their homes. It can be really difficult to feel "holiday cheer" when you are freezing cold and you don't have any food in your stomach. The realization that you are not going to enjoy any of the good things that other people get to enjoy this time of the year is enough to push many people over the edge. Yes, for most of the country this time of the year is filled with food, family and fun but for millions of others this time of the year tends to magnify despair, depression and thoughts of suicide. If you are blessed as we get ready to enter 2012, please remember those out there that are really hurting. If someone does not help them, they might not make it to 2013.
In our society today, the "holiday season" is held up as the ultimate time of the year. Often expectations are so high that they are almost impossible to fulfill. The truth is that materialism is never going to bring anyone true fulfillment, and once Christmas is over many Americans are left with a very hollow feeling.
But all of the "Christmas hype" on television and in the movies can make it seem like this is a "magical" time of the year for most people. For those that are in a tremendous amount of emotional pain, the holidays can be excruciating because they can feel as though they are "missing out" on all the fun and happiness that everyone else is experiencing. That is why for many Americans that are "on the edge", this can be the absolute worst time of the year.
When people go "over the edge", the consequences can be devastating.
For example, have you noticed how there always seems to be a rash of murder-suicides at this time of the year?
One murder-suicide that made national headlines happened down in Texas. It turns out that the killer actually dressed up as Santa Claus. The following description of this stunning incident comes from an article posted on USA Today....
Police said the man they believe is responsible for a Christmas Day shooting that left him and six members of his extended family dead was dressed as Santa Claus.
Grapevine police spokesman Sgt. Robert Eberling said Monday the shooter "showed up shortly before the incident took place" in the Santa outfit and was a member of the family opening gifts in the apartment.
Could you imagine being killed by a family member dressed as Santa Claus?
But sometimes people do not snap in a family setting. For some, it is the work environment that sets them off. Just consider the following example from a recent article in the Washington Post....
A Southern California Edison employee chatted calmly with co-workers in the moments between gunning down four managers during a rampage at an office complex, authorities said as the building reopened Tuesday.
Investigators still were trying to determine what pushed gunman Andre Turner to finish a normal workday by shooting the workers with a semiautomatic handgun before turning it on himself.
Every year we also see reports of Christmas presents being stolen right out from under the tree. The following comes from an article in the Los Angeles Times....
A Northern California family victimized in a burglary a few days before Christmas is hoping to at least get their dog back.
The Lancers lost all of the presents under the tree along with their dog when their home in Morgan Hill, southeast of San Jose, was broken into last week, authorities said Sunday.
There are a lot of people out there that do not have any hesitation about stealing from others. Desperate people do desperate things, and right now the number of desperate people in America is growing.
Tonight, there are millions upon millions of Americans that cannot find work and that are incredibly stressed. The truth is that there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone. If the number of Americans considered to be "looking for work" was the same today as it was back in 2007, the "official" unemployment rate would be up to 11 percent.
But the Obama administration does not want to report such a depressing number.
8.6 percent just sounds so much more pleasant.
But of course our leaders are enjoying a good, long break from all of the "hard work" that they have put in toward fixing the economy.
Nancy Pelosi has jetted off to Hawaii and is spending her holidays in a suite that rents for $10,000 a night.
Barack Obama and his family are in Hawaii as well. It has been estimated that their Hawaiian vacation will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million dollars.
It is shameful that our "leaders" are enjoying such luxury at a time when so many millions of Americans are barely surviving.
One of the reasons why my site has struck such a nerve is because the pain that millions of Americans are going through right now is very real.
For example, the following is a comment that a reader identified as "Ricci" left on one of my recent articles....
I sleep in my car. I have nowhere else to go. It gets really cold and hurts my bones. I would love love love to go back to work but I was hospitalized 12 times in two years. I wouldn’t be able to keep a job because of my health i’m not dependable. THESE are the people who are homeless. It’s also a LOT of veterans that are homeless. But I sleep in my car. Often on family property and I’m still stalked and harassed by police and I’m sick of it.
In another comment, Ricci shared even more of her story....
Wow….do you really think that? I am a licensed social worker for 10 years. In 2005 I lost a son & daughter 3 hours after they were born. For 3 years I suffered in pain, still working my ass off, but found I was very ill. After chemo, immuno-suppressants, and a myriad of other medications I could not afford, I went bankrupt and lost my house. By this time, I was awarded disability on the first try w/o an attorney. I wasn’t expected to live. But here I am. I can barely move somedays I hurt so much. I don’t have family willing to take me in. I look fine on the outside you know. If I would just have more faith or exercise more or eat the right foods I would be cured. Whatever. I often worked 50 to 60 hours a week to protect kids from real problems (not taken away for poverty as people say……so sick of the myths about social services). Anyway, before that I worked mental health, and worked in the school district. I have busted my ass to care for other people. My husband left, children died, and when my health failed I lost everything and fell through the cracks. It’s people like me who are homeless…I do not drink. I do not use drugs. I can barely get the medications I need even w/ supplemental insurance. I get stalked and harassed by police if I so much as get tired and pull over so I don’t wreck. I was on my dad’s property in my car 3 times in two months I was approached by police…one time there were 4 cops that came to my car……on our family’s private property. My car has totally been profiled. I’m so sick of it. At this point, I would be better off dead.
So what do you say to someone like Ricci?
I have never slept in my car. I have never lost a son or daughter. I have never lost a house. I have never been homeless.
How can I identify with someone who has gone through all of that?
But we do need to tell people like Ricci not to ever give up. The vast majority of us have been at very low points in our own lives, and the secret is to keep on fighting and to never, ever give up. No matter how bad things get, they can always be turned around if you will just have faith.
We should remember to pray for people like Ricci and the millions of other Americans that are going through similar trials. We should also look for ways to help people that are really hurting in our own communities.
Yes, we cannot possibly rescue everyone is hurting. But what we can do is love the one that is in front of us.
Unfortunately, our economic problems are only going to get worse. America is in the middle of a long-term decline that is rapidly accelerating. That means that there are going to be lots more people that are going to lose their jobs and their homes.
So let us do what we can to focus on real world solutions and to focus on preparing for the hard times that are coming.
We waste so much time on unnecessary things. For example, did you know that there are over 695,000 status updates on Facebook every single minute?
Every 60 seconds.
As bad as 2011 was, it looks like 2012 is going to be significantly worse. It won't be the end of the world of course, but huge challenges are ahead. Now is the time to get our priorities in order and to start focusing on the things that really matter.