More than one Grinch out there

Several Christmases ago I wrote an article “Why the Grinch Stole Christmas.” As we wrap up this year of 2020 I think there are actually many “Grinches” that are trying to steal Christmas. The “Grinch” stands for anything that is threatening to sabotage Christmas or otherwise steal our good times this holiday season. COVID-19 has already taken many things that we used to take for granted, but likely will count as blessings for many years to come. So I’m going to name COVID as the Big Grinch this year.

The Big Grinch of 2020 brought with him several Little Grinches. These other grinches have always been around, but the Big Grinch has really paved the way for them to infiltrate our homes, relationships and personal lives in new and devious ways. These Little Grinches are fear, addiction, loneliness, confusion, apathy and mistrust.

I’ve seen an unprecedented level of fear and anxiety in 2020. Of course there are more issues that have been worrisome this year; the election, the spread of a serious virus, economic uncertainty and plenty of civil unrest. Many people have dealt with the anxiety by numbing out. Screens are a popular way to numb out; gaming, social media and binge-watching. Drinking and drug use for numbing out have certainly increased in 2020. Suicide and self-harm have also increased. A doctor at a local hospital recently told me emergency room psychiatric admissions have more than doubled in the last few months.

We’ve become more socially isolated and some people have become severely isolated When we become isolated, our mental health suffers. Its easy “let yourself go” in isolation. There’s a lot of “What’s the point?” thinking in isolation. Isolated people often find themselves becoming depressed and mistrustful. On top of all this, there is confusion. When should you wear a mask, and when is it OK to not wear one? How long should you be in quarantine? Are kids in school or not? Are things getting worse or better? What about that vaccine?

One of the scariest things for children is to watch helplessly as their parents succumb to these Little Grinches. Children need love, reassurance and security more than any wrapped gift you can put under the tree this Christmas. Keep the Little Grinches away this Christmas by focusing on love, community and priorities. Keep up the meaningful Christmas traditions that are still possible this year. Focus on what you still have instead of what has been lost. Put away the screens and look your children in the eye when they talk to you, and expect the same from them! Keep a routine that includes getting your sleep, eating healthy foods and exercise. Value yourself and those around you. An easy gift to give this Christmas is kindness. Seriously, we all need each other to give our best these days. That’s how we keep the Grinches away.

Merry Christmas, and I pray we all have a Happy New Year!


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