The Loneliest Generation

I just returned from several days in Manhattan. What a magical place during the Christmas season. I love to walk through Macy’s on 34th street and watch skaters in love under the Rockefeller Christmas tree. I always rewatch It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street among others. It is a special time of sights, smells and family connection. Love it!

Yet sadly, there is a darker side to this festive season: the loneliness and isolation of many. Yesterday, I came across this piece on the elderly and their struggles with disconnection. It is sobering. I mention this because there is something we can do about it, especially during this time. Look around and pay attention to those who might be left out of our gatherings and celebrations. Little things matter: like a phone call or an unexpected gift. Be creative, take a risk. Be uncomfortable in finding ways to reach out.

The former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, named neither smoking nor obesity as the premier health challenge of our times, rather…loneliness. The unintended consequences of our affluent and highly mobile society is to find ourselves alone without friends. Loneliness has specific health consequences. Experiencing extended loneliness is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day. So for your own sake, invest in a few others with no agenda other than to be together, for this is increasingly rare to find in our drive to achieve ever greater objectives. Sometimes we just need to be together with those who care for us and vice versa.

Next week, I will have an annual Christmas lunch at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown, with two of my very close friends. We will no doubt laugh and drink a dark Guinness brew, but we will also share candidly our hopes and concerns for the coming year. No judgement, just the pure joy of being known.

We all need real authentic connections with those we love. So this season, join me as I attempt to be both a giver and a receiver of rich friendship and care. Look for that one who is alone and longing for human touch.

Have a wonderful season of joy and remembrance. Each day is a gift…as Tiny Tim said in the Christmas Carol by Dickens, ‘God bless us every one.’