TV, billboard, and magazine images of the holiday season–of happy family gatherings around opulently laid tables, of material abundance and gifts, of joyous celebration and even worship–don’t guarantee the real thing. In fact, more people get depressed and even commit suicide during this time of year than any other. For some people, this season holds painful reminders of what’s lacking rather than what’s truly at hand and evokes a sadness of what might be, but isn’t.

Let’s face it: all the latest high-tech gadgets that we “must have” serve as a poignant reminder of how far we’ve wandered from simple living and simple contact. We not only live in an atmosphere of technological complexities unheard of two generations ago, we depend on them. Our machines keep us connected. If they break down so do we.

Or so it seems. I say humanize this holiday! If the season evokes sadness, I say better to reach out with genuine tears than to stay distant with fake smiles. This year, unplug yourself from your TV and your computer, and make more eye contact. Connect inside and out, to feelings, friends, family, and to the true desires and visions of the heart, and let the bubbles of virtual reality burst. What about speaking your mind, confessing your fears, and ultimately declaring your love out loud? Holiday images of some ethereal peacefulness pale before real human intimacy. Technology can’t touch that.

Andy Roman, LMHC, RN

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