On a cool, rainy Saturday I was driving with my 5-year-old daughter to pick up pizza for lunch when she said, “Daddy, the leaves are really pretty colors.” I hadn’t noticed, but as I lifted my gaze from the road I realized the leaves were indeed changing from the deep green of summer to the cool shades of red, orange, and yellow signaling the change of seasons.  Then it hit me: it’s fall! But how? I should not have felt surprised, but suddenly the whole year felt like a blur and I realized the holiday season was right around the corner.  

Maybe you have had a similar experience, but whether or not it sneaks up on you I feel like this time of year is usually a great one.  It’s when a lot of us break out comfortable sweaters, gather with Family and friends, celebrate Holy days, watch football, and eat delicious homemade meals (I can hear the excitement and smell the pies, can you?).  While this captures what many of us experience, we could do well to remember that it is not everyone’s reality.  The holiday season can be lonely and difficult, especially if we have recently experienced a significant loss or find ourselves separated from Family and friends.  

The truth is there are a myriad of challenges that might keep our holidays from feeling ideal (e.g., deployments, Family emergencies, financial strains, etc.). If this is your reality it could be easy to feel upset or isolated, maybe even estranged from God instead of feeling like we should praise Him for blessing us on Thanksgiving or sing along with Andy Williams to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” as December rolls along.

Maybe you identify with this feeling, that in the coming weeks it might be difficult to socialize, worship or celebrate. If that’s the case, please remember: you aren’t alone.  All around you are people in similar situations. So what can you do? It might be good to invite someone to a meal or to watch a game. In their company your days could become merry and bright. It might be good to go to the chapel for a seasonal religious worship service. After all, as you move closer to God, He can draw closer to you. In the end, my hope is that after the holidays are over you can say it was a good season, one that gave your soul comfort and joy.