My Old Man (and Other Loved Ones)
OKLAHOMA CITY – Around this time of year, it is almost impossible to avoid Christmas movies. I will fully admit that I have some favorites, ranging from White Christmas to Die Hard (yes, it is a Christmas movie), but one that is almost impossible to skip over is A Christmas Story. Ralphie’s adventures certainly resonate with an older generation, as well as many younger generations. The excitement of this season is universal.
If you were not aware, a sequel to this movie, A Christmas Story Christmas, recently was released with Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) returning home after the death of his father right before Christmas. The story is about Ralphie’s efforts to continue the family traditions of the holiday for his mother and his own family. All the former child actors in the original returned for the sequel almost 40 years later.
Watching the movie brought back memories of my favorite adventures as a child. I loved how my father made sure Christmas was properly celebrated by my family, and “My Old Man” certainly had many of the same quirks as Mr. Parker, and my mom shares many with Ralphie’s mom.
My father died of a stroke just over 14 years ago. It is tough to go through the holidays without him there, but the stories the family will share about him and the others we have lost will keep their memories alive for the youngsters to get to know about them.
Over the past couple of weeks, my family lost two family members who were special to me, and many of those fond memories tie back to Christmas celebrations. My uncle, Paul Lillard, and my aunt, Earline Yates, both succumbed to health issues. While these were horrible losses for my mom’s side of the family, the ability to see and spend time with cousins from those early days helped ease the pain.
While for young people, gifts are pretty special to receive, I am convinced most adults enjoy the company and time together with friends and family. There have been tough times in recent years with many people allowing the divisiveness in our nation to creep into our personal lives.
Over the holidays, and especially with those senior adults in the family, please try to help connect your youngsters with those who might hold a special bond with them. I know it will be difficult, sometimes impossible, to be together due to distance, and there are simply some family members in just about every family who are best not to be around to preserve the peace, so use your judgment on what is best for your kids.
If you have experienced loss in your family or times are growing more difficult, please reach out to someone to visit with about what is going on in your life. Earlier this year, the government designated the three-digit “988” as the nationwide number for mental health crisis and suicide prevention services.
A 2014 study by the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) showed that 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse. Even those just experiencing stress find that high expectations and loneliness can lead to the “Holiday Blues” during the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
If you have a loss in your family, please take the step to help make the days more bearable, and while it might not be professional therapy, try to watch heart-warming Christmas movies like A Christmas Story Christmas and the original A Christmas Story with some children in your life.
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023. The organization was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”
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