GATORCHOPPIN ON ... Holidays and Empty Chairs

Updated 35 weeks ago by David "Alligator" Williams
GATORCHOPPIN ON ... Holidays and Empty Chairs

I am writing today on the twentieth anniversary  of my father's death.  Every year I am hit with a little sadness as the holidays begin.  As I think back through my life, I think the thing that has changed the most is how I view the holidays.

Growing up, holidays were the greatest times of my life.  I remember me sand my brother Gary flipping endlessly through Spiegel and Sears catalogs frantically making our Christmas wish lists.  I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only two days of the year that my dad would drink.  He would have either wine or champagne and would open the bottle at dinner and sip on it through the night.

When my brothers moved away, I would look forward to the holidays because it was the only time of the year that I would get to see them.  I looked forward to holidays most of my life...until I got older.  Once, I got older, holidays remind me of 'empty chairs'.

The 'empty chairs" I see at the dinner table make me think of people that are no longer there.  I remember eating my last Thanksgiving dinner with my mother ten years ago at my Uncle's in Belleville, Illinois.  The year after she died, which was two years later, I ate Thanksgiving dinner again with my Uncle Joe Hubbard.  I just kept looking at the empty chair where my mother would have sat.

Every year, it seems like there is another empty chair at the holiday table.  I pray for all of the families that lost loved ones to the drug epidemic, because I know especially the first holiday dinner will be sad.  Sometimes our minds fool us and we do not grieve as properly as we should because we are in denial, but nothing strikes at the heart like an empty chair...and you immediately realize they are not there.  It is kind of bittersweet because while you miss them immediately recall the great holidays you spent with them and you get a warm feeling.


 Here are several ways to cope with "seasonal depression" or what I call "Empty Chairs syndrome

"Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable by not trying to make the holiday “the best ever.” Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the most important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Do not spend too much time preparing for just one day (Christmas). 
Remember that the holiday season does not automatically banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them. 
Let go of the past! Don’t be disappointed if your holidays are not like they used to be. Life brings changes. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. You set yourself up for sadness if everything has to be just like the “good old days.” Look toward the future. 
Do something for someone else. It is an old remedy, but it can help. Try volunteering some time to help others. 
Enjoy holiday activities that are free such as driving around to look at Christmas decorations. Go window shopping without buying anything. 
Don’t drink too much. Excessive drinking will only make you more depressed. 
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a way you have not done before. 
Spend time with people who are supportive and care about you. Make new friends if you are alone during special times. Contact someone you have lost touch with. 
Find time for yourself! Don’t spend all your time providing activities for your family and friends."


Holidays can be a time to make new memories or spend a last few good times with someone you will not get to see too many more times.  Empty chairs can be sad or it can be a time to be thankful that you got to spend some time with that person and the influence they made in your chair. 


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