A close friend is going through a particularly bad patch of depression right now. She told me she feels empty and I missed the point when I offered some suggestions to ease the depression and get back on the holiday track. I do that sometimes, offer help instead of just shutting up and listening. It's my nature. I'm the fix-it girl.
As I read her post on Live Journal about not wanting pity or sympathy or quick-fixes (guilty as charged), I thought about what she said about not being able to get out and get those little inexpensive gifts for friends that makes her holiday season more like a holiday and less like just another season, and I decided to make things a little better (I hope) by getting her a few fun little gifts to help her find a way to smile again, if only for a fleeting moment.
As I looked through page after page of little gifts, I began to smile. Slinkies and pocket Etch-a-Sketches and all manner of plush toys you can fling from a sling. Those plastic-enclosed pictures filled with iron filings you can move about to make different faces with an attached magnet, Magic 8 Balls, and any number of other little pocket- and stocking-sized gifties from my past, and possibly from yours. The items are all silly in one way or another, but remembering the hours I spent playing those games, making faces, seeing if Silly Putty really could pick up comics from the funny papers (it does), and generally just having fun were the best.
In addition to the usual gifts I give my grandchildren, I'm giving them something silly and fun to create memories for times like these when they need to be cheered up or want to cheer up a friend. I'm still giving them the books and other gifts I've chosen, but now they'll get a little something fun and silly. It's what grandmothers are for -- and what grandchildren are for.
The holidays are hard enough for some people as they scramble around making do with what little money they can afford to spend or making and baking gifts because it's more personal and from the heart -- and hand -- and often because they are lonely far from home in a foreign land or in their own country and isolated by circumstance, health, or whatever reason and not able to spend it with family and friends. One little something, a plastic egg of Silly Putty or a tiny Etch-A-Sketch or Magic Doodle Pad that disappears when you raise the plastic film or a Slinky, can make the difference between another silent night full of sadness and regret or a night of laughter and nonsense. I'm choosing the laughter and nonsense, so thank you, my friend, for reminding me I can't fix everyone's problems, but I can fix my own. It's a wonderful gift.