I had the most unusual experience the other day. There was a knock on my door, and I opened to find two men standing on my porch. They appeared to be in the neighborhood selling or proselyting something. I regularly open my door, because I really enjoy people, even if I am not likely to purchase anything or convert to their faith.
This experience was odd to me, because as I opened the door, neither of them seemed to notice. Why? They were both staring into their I-Pad and scrolling. They did not even seem aware I was there. These people came to my door to convince me to buy something, and they did not pay any attention to me.
I wanted to break into my best impersonation of Robin-Williams-as-Genie in Aladdin and say, “Excuse me! Are you looking away from me? Did you just ring my bell? Did you just knock on my door? Moreover, now, you’re not even looking at me. I don’t think so… Not right now! You’re gonna talk to me, so look here!”
I also thought about just quietly closing the door and pretending I was not home. Instead, I politely cleared my throat. The one closer to me turned and looked at me as if surprised to see me. He had a look that said, “Wow! What are you doing out here on your front porch?” His colleague never looked up the entire time.
At this point, the sales pitch was wasted, and I sent them on their way! I would not have been at all surprised to find the silent one still there a week later—weeds growing around his feet as he stood on my porch. Maybe I could donate him to one of those thrift stores that come and pick things up. Is there a market for this? I think not! I hope not!
What is going on with the world in which we live? I have figured out why we love shows like The Walking Dead so much! It is because we get it! In so many ways, this is us! I just had a couple of zombies on my front porch. While I am fortunate they did not try to eat me, they did eat up my time and my opportunity for connection with other people. And that, in my mind, is even more horrific than a zombie-banquet of bodies!
In my professional work as a counselor, coach, and marriage educator, I consult with people every day who feel the burdens of disconnection. They are depressed, lonely, isolated, alone, and sad. I see so many who long for human touch and interaction. So many just want to be loved.
In my profession, we often talk about people being “hardwired for connection” with others. We come into this world needing and begging for meaningful connections with others. However, we so often miss out, numb out, and feel unfulfilled.
Every day someone metaphorically opens their doors to us, hoping to connect in meaningful and fulfilling ways. Every day we have a choice to respond with closeness and connection or distance and disconnect. It is not hard to tell which will be more fulfilling.
So, what is to be done? What can we do to stay connected and invite others to join us? Perhaps, we can start by giving connection—real connection—for Christmas. Let’s unwrap this a little! Here are a few suggestions to give the gift of connection for Christmas.
1 Eliminate Distractions
When you get together with your family over the holidays, please put down all the things that might get in the way of meaningful interactions. Please turn off your phone. Better, yet, try leaving it in the car. You may experience slight withdrawal symptoms, but I promise you will survive. Eat a Christmas cookie and you will get over it.
Even more than putting your phone away, how about putting all electronic distractions away? I know someone who is reading this who would be ecstatic if this was the only gift he received for Christmas. It’s not just Mariah Carey who wants it! What many family members and friends really want for Christmas is you! So, power down, turn it off, switch to airplane mode, and really show up for holiday connection time!