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Ah, the holidays

 The holiday season is a time for celebration. From Thanksgiving to New Years, we celebrate. Christmas festivities include parties, decorating homes, trimming trees, planning holiday meals, and, of course, gift shopping.

It’s also a time to reflect on the past. The older we get the more we reminisce about holidays past. I remember my parents preparing the feasts for Christmas Eve, Day, and New Year’s Eve and Day. They shopped and cooked with love. There was a gleam in their eyes as they prepared the meals.

I remember sitting around the long table with relatives eating. My dad and uncle reminiscing about their childhoods. I remember the Christmas holidays spent in a suburb of St. Louis, where my mother’s siblings and my grandmother lived. After the meal, dessert, and coffee, there were card games. I remember opening gifts with my cousins early in the morning after we slept on the living room floor of my grandmother’s house.

I remember all the Christmas Eves and Days I worked as a Chicago Police Officer. It was a typical day at the office- handling calls about domestic disturbances, reporting crimes, and patrolling in a repetitive loop. There was a restaurant that would send Christmas Dinner to the station. A turkey, ham, dressing, and all the other trimmings, including dessert. We would meander in on our lunch breaks to eat.

Years later, when I worked midnights by choice, I would get off work at 5 AM. I would sneak into the house and place my daughter’s gifts under the tree. When she was older, I would put the gifts under the tree and sleep on the couch. After opening the gifts and hearing the oohs and ahs, I would go to sleep until it was time to prepare dinner.

Now I have other memories. People my age remember those who are no longer with us and those close friends who moved far away. This year was tough, as too many people I know died. The memories come and go. There will be no more getting together for holiday drinks or parties. There will be no more “Remember when…”

The holidays are also a time of loneliness for many. They are far away from loved ones and have or think they have no one to celebrate with. Celebrating with others is something they remember too. They can’t wait for it all to go away.

With the holidays come parties. People overconsume alcohol. If you are celebrating the season, please do not drink and drive. Take cabs, ride shares, or link up with a designated driver. Fatalities and catastrophic injuries usually occur at higher rates because of alcohol-related vehicle crashes. You may be the victim or harm or kill someone else. Just do not drink and drive.

Suicides increase over the holidays for some of the reasons above, amongst other issues. If you’re in crisis, there are options available to help you cope. You can call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at any time to connect with a trained crisis counselor. For confidential support available 24/7 for everyone in the U.S., call or text 988.

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