13/12/2017 13:01 SAST | Updated 13/12/2017 13:01 SAST

Not Everyone Is Happy During The Christmas Holiday Season

Christmas can be an exceptionally lonely and challenging time for anyone who is marginalised or treated unfairly in society.

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December is usually an exciting month for young and old people all around the world. Christmas is considered a time of joy, laughter, love and giving. However, this is not the narrative for many individuals out there.

In fact, Christmas can be an exceptionally lonely and challenging time for someone who is marginalised or treated unfairly in society. This is why depression and mental health issues often increase during the holiday season, and why it should be everyone's objective to reach out to those who may be alone, neglected or disregarded during this time.

While many of us use the festive season to spend time celebrating and having fun with family and friends, eating a lot of food, opening up presents and adopting the "jolly spirit", there are individuals who simply cannot contemplate this.

The reality is that Christmas can be a harsh reminder of people's lack of happiness, joy, love and acceptance in their lives. It is a time where some are surrounded by many and others are alone, without family, friends or individuals by their side. It is also a time where many marginalised groups are reminded about their current positions in society, compared to privileged groups.

For LGBTQ+ individuals, especially young, queer individuals, homelessness and loneliness are major challenges that many face. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, at least 40 percent of homeless young people identify as LGBTQ+.

Christmas is a very difficult time for the LGBTQ+ community, because it can be a brutal reminder for those who are not accepted by members of their family –– with whom they may or may not be spending time during the holiday period. If you are able to donate or help out, a list of LGBTQ+ organisations can be found here.

If you can do one thing for someone else during this season, it will make a difference. Remember that it all starts with us.

Christmas is a time where distinct comparisons can be made between the "haves" and "have-nots". Poverty is a massive, worldwide problem in all countries and during the festive season, poor individuals are often forgotten about and neglected.

In fact, the capitalist gimmick of buying expensive gifts overshadows the fact that so much money could go towards investing in projects that alleviate poverty.

During this holiday, take time to think about giving a helping hand to individuals who are less fortunate than you. Whether it is an organisation you will assist at, or just one person you pass by, a simple action can make a difference.

It is also important to recognise that not everyone celebrates Christmas –– a Christian holiday and also a Western, capitalist phenomenon. It is often imposed on individuals who are not Christians, nor do they wish to buy into a money-making scheme.

As a result, people often shame or "other" individuals who do not celebrate or partake in the Christmas season.

Respect others for their religious or cultural beliefs and allow them to have a space to practice their religion(s) too! While we may be indulging and engrossed in the holiday season, we, especially white individuals, often forget about the injustices that people of colour face in our society.

My gift and wish for all white people this Christmas is to burst their bubbles of privilege and ignorance, and take it upon themselves to realise the struggles that people of colour go through and how our Westernised, white-supremacist structures in society need to be dismantled in order to establish true equality for all.

Yes, Christmas is a joyful time, and I do not want to take away your happiness, but I do think that it is important to be conscious about individuals around us who may not be able to share the same happy, joyful narrative that we have because of the positions that they are in.

If you can do one thing for someone else during this season, it will make a difference. Remember that it all starts with us.