Here we are just three days before Christmas. Well, I suppose I should reach into my vast stores of inspiration, wit, and good cheer; and bring you the most awe inspiring newsletter of the year. But, no, I actually believe I can do much better.

I’m going to share a story with you, and it’s not The Night Before Christmas. But let me set the table first. I’m 55 and was fortunate enough to have found my life’s passion and work five years ago. So I earned my master’s degree and counseling credentials, and have reveled in lending a hand to those suffering from mental and emotional distress. Sure, I knew starting over was going to be a formidable task; but I also knew it was meant to be. And just one more thing, I’ve been divorced for twelve years and have two wonderful teenage children with whom I’m very tight.

Okay, to the story already. One year ago this past October I decided to leave my very expensive apartment behind and look for more affordable digs. My plan was to live in a hotel for a month or so (Priceline is awesome) while I looked for a new place to call home. Well, all was going according to plan until I lost my job three weeks later. And, My God, I suddenly found myself in the midst of an incredibly horrible economy, a disastrous job market, and very limited financial resources.

In the several weeks preceding Christmas I became all the more devastated by my circumstances and I still find it hard to digest and describe the utter desperation, isolation, and loneliness that shrouded my life.

Needless to say, the curtain had fallen on the traditional Christmas play. And what hurt the very most was the ever increasing distance between my children, who are my life-line, and me. I mean, I couldn’t blame them for not wanting to hang around a hotel room. And I couldn’t afford to take them out to eat or catch a movie. Yes, Alex and Natalie would always be my children, but I was terribly distressed over what had become of our relationship and the emotional impact of my circumstances upon them.

But you know what? One year later, we’ve survived to embrace another day. And, really now, isn’t that typically what happens?

This is so cool. I’m writing you at a Panera Bread, Alex just leaving after we spent some quality time together making sure we didn’t leave any schools off his college list. And Natalie and I spent an hour or so together early this afternoon just being silly as we walked through Meijer’s and Walmart.

Hmmm. 2008 and 2009…two contrasting takes on Christmas. One cold and bitter, the other warm and sweet. Earned perspective, I’d say.

By the way, I don’t care about ornate trees, obliged social interactions, and expensive gifts just now. I’ve found something else…

Author's Bio: 

After a winning bout with panic disorder, a career in the business world, and a part-time job working with socially challenged adolescents, Bill found his life's passion and work. So he earned his master's degree and counseling credentials, and is doing all he can to lend a hand to those having a tough time.

We invite you to stop by our online mental and emotional health journal at We pride ourselves in top-notch blog content and would love to read your comments. Also available are books, audios, and mentoring services.

In addition to doing psychiatric emergency work, Bill continues to do a lot of writing and speaking. He's conducted numerous mental health workshops for non-profit organizations and remains available to present more. Bill is a national and local member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (N.A.M.I.).