The Joneses Don’t Exist

I’m not going to lie; my anxiety levels grow extensively during the holiday season.  It’s unfortunate because the real reason for the season should be enough to calm a person and fill them with joy.  But the holidays tend to put expectations on us that are often just unrealistic.

One doesn’t have to look far and long to find or even feel the stress of the current times in which we live.  The pandemic has orchestrated its way into almost every facet of our lives.  People are struggling.  And the holidays could very well just put folks over the edge.  As a matter of fact, it does tend to be the time period in which suicide rates are the highest.

With that in mind, please allow me to enter in my unsolicited, unresearched, and partially uneducated advice to you all.  Yes; this is for the struggling, non-struggling, and medium struggling folks.  You all likely fit these categories.

First off, it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok if you are not the Joneses. And little did you probably know – the Joneses are likely struggling too. But as a school superintendent, obviously my mind navigates to your children and the Joneses children.

I do worry about our students.  There is an enormous amount of “stuff” on their plates right now.  They are worried about possibly not seeing their friends for any and all reasons surrounding the pandemic.  They are worried they may not get to participate in the activities that they go to bed dreaming about every night.  They are worried about their parents and grandparents as the virus creeps ever so closer to loved ones.  They are worried about Christmas.  They know their family’s financial situation.  Some of them have parents that have lost jobs.  Some of them have lost a parent, grandparent, etc that won’t be with them for Christmas.  I could go on and on and on.  I really don’t want to put you all in a “Negative Nancy” or “Debbie Downer” mood.  Rather I’m hoping we can all start thinking like “Reality Rick.” 

And that reality is quite simple.  These are stressful times for all.  Let’s not assume that people are fine and their lives are glorious.  Let’s not assume that the holidays are a joyous time for all. And let’s not assume that our kids are excited and will be just fine for the holidays.  Knowing what we know – we can help make the holidays better though.

So, I’m going to ask you all to put your “Positive Patricia” and “Caring Carl” pants on.  The world needs the “positive” and “caring” vaccine just as much as it needs the Covid vaccine.  In light of the many stressers that finagle their way into our hearts and minds everyday – the world has just as many blessers that we need to allow in as well.  These blessers are in abundance but we allow them to be clouded and blurred by the negatives we see, hear, and feel constantly.  But please know you control your mood.  You get to decide if something will bring you down or lift you up.  You are in total control.  You program your own mood and you can be instrumental in helping others to realize that very same thing.

So now what? Well, let me throw something at you (not literally). Please do one random act of kindness for someone every day from now until Christmas. Yes – even the Joneses. It’s December 1st today. It’s certainly not hard to do twenty-five random acts of kindness. Don’t just say you will either. Put your “Positive Patricia,” “Caring Carl,” “Happy Hank,” and “Loving Lucy” pants on right now and let’s start helping one another out during this difficult time. People need to feel connected, loved, and appreciated. Those are just as important as food, water, shelter. Convince me otherwise. Okay, you probably could but hopefully you are picking up what I’m throwing down.

And if you’ve picked it up – it’s now in your court. Make somebody’s day better or be a “Neutral Nicky,” or “Go-With-The-Flow Fernando.” You get to choose. Santa is watching.

And just to close this out – you all know a child or family that is struggling. You all likely know children that would rather not have a holiday break from school because of their home environment. You all know what It’s like to struggle. You know what bad days are. You know what it’s like being down. You know! Then I would just say this – why in the world would you not do something that takes zero effort and try to make somebody’s day better? Even if you try and fail – you will certainly make your day better because when we help others – we actually help ourselves. You know as well as I do that you could use some help right now too. And help could simply be a smile, hug, or Twix candy bar.

Twenty-Five days and Twenty-Five chances to spread joy.  Let’s make joy spread faster than the virus.  You got this.  Happy Holidays to you and your families.

And yes – for the last time – even the Joneses are struggling.