Tis the season when the airwaves are flooded with jingling bells, and we join together in a boisterous chorus of the annual debate over the playing of Christmas songs.
I admit, I’m a fan of the genre and welcome it. I feel though, I am in the minority on this.
Either way it can seem a fairly inconsequential argument to have.
After all, we can simply change the station, leave the mall or pop in some earbuds and groove to our own tunes should we feel our inner Grinch reacting to all the “noise, Noise NOISE.”
But for some, the feelings those Christmas songs reveal aren’t so easily pushed aside. The idealism of the songs can blur the realities of the season.
I’ll be Home for Christmas
Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is hopeful but for those experiencing homelessness, being home for the holiday could feel like an impossible dream. In London, the shelters are operating at near capacity, the vacancy rate for rentals averaging around 2.1 percent and average market rent prices are beyond the allotted amounts provided by ODSP and OW.
Facing homelessness is never easy. During the holidays it can be even harder.
The lack of housing can leave people feeling alienated or ashamed.
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays
Growing up my parents had this song (performed by Perry Como) on 8-track – it feels like home to me. This year, with classes extended and finances stretched, students may be facing spending the holidays away their family and friends.
London became a new home to roughly 1,600 Syrian refugees in 2016 and many more immigrants from around the world. Employees may not be able to book time off due to necessary coverage, precarious employment or financial demands.
Sadly not everyone is able to get home.
Elvis’s Song seems to be about a lost love but the holidays can leave people feeling blue for a number of reasons.
From a relationship breakup to the death of a loved one, to struggling with depression – they all can leave a person reeling on Holidays. Cherished memories of Christmases past, fears of how to get through Christmas present. Even day to day activities like grocery shopping can leave people struggling just to keep it together.
For those dealing with loss or depression, it doesn’t feel like “the most wonderful time of the year” and everyone telling you to be of good cheer only makes it worse.
I’m Gettin Nuttin’ for Christmas
Sure this song is silly, but the title is feeling all too real for many of Londoners this season.
According to data from the 2015 Census, 22.2 percent of children live in low-income homes.
Add to that fallout from two lengthy strikes along with an overall depressed economy in southwestern Ontario, and many are pushed to their spending limits.
This will put even more pressure on programs like the Salvation Army Hamper Program with more people looking for assistance and less people being in the position to give.
We Need a Little Christmas
So how do we change the tune?
If you are able to give to some of the organizations that help those in need do so. Consider also giving less in your own home, Christmas doesn’t have to be the commercialized event it’s become.
If you know someone who is dealing with loss or depression reach out to them, offer to pick up some groceries, drop off a care package and let them know you’re there for them.
If you know someone who is unable to make it home, consider inviting them to spend some time with you over the holidays.
And if someone says they don’t want to listen to Sounds of the Season, think about the fact there’s likely a reason.
Feature photo by Colleen Murphy