Strengthening Your Holiday Spirit
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- An elderly man in Miami calls his son in New York and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing. Forty-five years of misery is enough."
"Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams.
"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the old man says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her." And he hangs up.
Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone, "They're absolutely NOT getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this."
She calls her father immediately and yells, "You are NOT getting divorced! Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing. DO YOU HEAR ME?" And she hangs up.
The old man chuckles, hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "They're both coming for Christmas and paying their own airfares."
I have read the story written in different ways to represent other holiday celebrations like Hanukah, birthdays, and anniversaries. The moral of the story, aside from a good laugh, is to inspire the holiday spirit with thoughts of family. This is where the spiritual aspect meets the social aspect of our self-being. It cheerfully emphasizes the importance of the holidays to the family. However, for those of us who wear the uniform, this joke might tug on our heartstrings, bring to mind some thoughts of home, or it might dampen our spirits this holiday season. To us, the holidays may pose as a spiritual challenge especially when our nation asks us to be hundreds and thousands of miles away from our loved ones in order to defend our way of life. We do not always know how badly our beliefs and values can get shaken until we take that mile or thousand-mile walk while wearing the uniform of the valiant. But we wouldn't be the world's greatest Air Force without the world's greatest Airmen.
As a Master Resiliency Trainer, I am well-versed in the Air Force's weapons to arm our very best and elite Airmen with a few tools to turn the holiday blues around. First, perform a self-reflection and identify these emotions. The sooner you acknowledge this spiritual trial, the easier we can find ways to cope and strengthen our resolve. Acceptance is a powerful skill that leads to enlightenment. Understand that this emotion is not a sign of weakness but a natural and innate human attribute. As social beings, we are at our best when we are with others.
Second, seek out your brothers and sisters-in-arms. You might not realize it yet but we, as a collective whole, will rally behind each other because we are a family and we protect our own. Many of our members have also walked down that lonely path that you are trudging on. Take heart, shed that burden, and walk alongside them. And the company makes a good conversation as well.
Next, close that distance in another way. Technology stitches continents together in a patchwork of interconnectedness. Human innovation gave way to strengthen communication. Facetime, Skype, Facebook, and other social media networks were engineered to keep us connected with each other. Keep in touch with the people who are important to you. To hear their voice, see their face, and even read their posts can provide that much needed relief from the solitude.
Finally, look within yourself and have a little chat. There is no need to be completely outwardly vocal. The purpose of this skill is to give yourself a pep talk and appreciate who you are. Ask yourself a few analytical questions. What drives you forward? What motivates you? Who believes in you and smiles whenever you talk to them? Who depends on you to be at your very best? Who can you depend on when you are at your not-so-best?
This is the rally cry for the steadfast but weary warrior; the sentry and the vigilant; the proud and intrepid; the hero, the human. Get home safe because your loved ones are waiting. They want to hear your stories. If the burden of loneliness becomes too exhausting for the spirit, remember you are not alone. Your family in uniform is always here for you and technology is here to help keep you connected. Lastly, remember that you know yourself the best. You know what keeps you going, determined, and motivated. Use these tools to turn that frown upside down. And if you need a little cheering up, read the joke again for a second laugh...it could still put a smile on your face. Happy Holidays!