As a culture we place a lot of expectations on the holidays. As kids we always looked forward to the joy of the season: all the cool stuff we would get, all the great food and treats, and lots of time to just enjoy life and have fun since school was out for a few weeks.

These memories are imprinted into our mind and are revived every year with the sounds and sights of the holidays. To most it’s a special time of year, one in which we celebrate and connect with those closest to us. Or so we hope.

But every year many people are lonely. For some it’s another year without that special someone to share the season with. Surely not all single adults are miserable, yet an enormous amount are. For these folks, they can’t wait for January 2nd. All the laughter, gaiety, and partying around them makes them even more sad. They remember when it was fun for them, maybe last year (or ten years ago) when they were in love.

For others, maybe they have moved away from their family and don’t know many people in their new city. Or possibly they will spend this year away from their children, deceased partner, or ex-lover for the first time.

Most of us will not have this experience this holiday season, but for those that do, remember to invite them into your homes and lives, and to share with them the closeness of friendship. This could be a co-worker, neighbor, relative, or friend. Regardless, this is the most significant gesture of the holiday spirit you can bring to life this year. Presents are fun to give and receive, but the true nature of giving is really from the heart.

When I was younger, a friend’s family invited me over to spend holidays with them since I was living 2,000 miles away from my own family and I was not yet married or involved. They made me feel welcome, wanted, and shared their food, warm home, and experience of what the holidays is really about – the people. Not the things.

The holidays are a time to rekindle old friendships; making time to get together for coffee when otherwise you seem too busy. Calling people you generally don’t make the time for since you now live separate lives. In the holidays we have people over or visit others, again something most people do very little of anymore in their busy hustle and bustle lives. It’s a time to let bygones be bygones, and forgive and forget when it comes to your siblings, parents, or friends who’ve maybe upset you sometime in the past year or so.