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It’s the holidays! Time for giving. Time for eating. Time for music and all forms of goodwill.

*(If you are someone that experiences sadness or depression this time of year, I’ve had years like that, too. I suggest binge-watching good movies with your favorite snacks piled high on the bed, or if you can get out and enjoy some natural beauty, that can help too. Please just know, that the season will be over soon, and the days will start to get lighter with more sunshine (and unless you live in Southern California, more sunshine is always a good thing).

We have a little tree up. It is a replica of the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree in the classic Peanuts special. My mom gave us the DVD several years ago, and we watch it at least once a year. I am always surprised by the part where Linus gives his speech about the true meaning of Christmas during the Christmas play. Because I am Christian, I love that part of the show, but I am surprised that children’s programs (watched by the majority of Americans during the 70’s) contained Christian messages.

Before my Grandfather died, he used to say, “I am ready to go to heaven. Most of my friends are there, and I don’t recognize this world anymore.”  When I think of my childhood, I feel a little bit like my Grandfather – there is so much that has changed. Huge changes have occurred in our society, and I feel nostalgic at times. For example, growing up we knew all of our neighbors and spent time in their company and their homes. I currently live in a condo with 16 other households, and I have never been invited into any of their units.

I wonder what my Grandfather would say about computers and smartphones? I am certain he would feel even more disconnected and isolated from a world that is changing so quickly. My mom, who will be 80 this year, bought a smartphone years before me. She sends me Snapchats every day and follows all my brothers on Instagram (a platform I am not even on). Even though I refused to buy a smartphone until this year; I think it is important to know things about each generation. I don’t mean that we have to do everything that each new generation of young people does, but we have to do some things. I try to read some of the articles and books that they are producing so that I can stay connected to changing language (like all the words we said before the 90’s that are no longer acceptable and all the new additions like nonbinary, gender neutral, etc.)

I recently saw a video posted by another blogger I follow (shout out to Outofgreatneed), that contained research about young people and technology. There is a large rise in depression among teenagers, and it appears to be linked directly to how much time they spend on their phones. I don’t know if it is the constant comparison of our lives to one another or the fact that staring at a screen is such a passive activity. The study didn’t say what it is about our smartphones that is making children more depressed; they only tied the increase in depression to the amount of time spent on the device.

So, how can we help people who were born into a different world feel connected, appreciated and important, this time of year and going forward? If they want to, we can be patient enough to help them learn new technologies. If they don’t want to do that, we can at a minimum, put our phones down when talking to them and look them in the eyes. Have you ever noticed that when you look someone in the eyes, it helps you to know how that person is feeling? Eyes, rarely lie.

It’s the holiday season, and like most people, I want to experience the magic of the season. That magic is diminished though if so many of us are feeling depressed and unwell. I’m not saying that the 70’s or any period before now was ideal or perfect, but we had some things right, some things that didn’t need to be altered or changed. I’m going to invite my neighbors to do more things with me in the New Year, and hopefully, when I write you at the end of 2018, I will know what some of their homes look like and more importantly what is on their minds and in their hearts.

If you celebrate, then Merry Christmas! If you don’t, then happy holidays! I wish us all a healthy and happy New Year!