What?  Prep for Christmas, as in “prepping”?

Absolutely, but of the more subtle dimension of prepping – the emotional side.

You see Christmas and New Years are supposedly joyous times of the year, but for many people, that’s a load of hooey.

As every Christmas rolls around, there are forgotten people everywhere.  A tip of the hat to Texas law firm Cordell & Cordell, a men’s family law advocacy firm down in the San Antonio area that is actually running commercials (on WOAI) asking people to remember men who are going through the heartbreak of divorce this year; and asking families to invite and involve the newly “singled” into their holiday plans.

I’ve been was in broadcasting 20-years and a multimedia consumer of gluttonous proportions ever since and I have never heard commercials from a women’s advocacy firm.  Maybe women are more welcome than men at this time of the year.

Been there, done that, years ago when my kids were young, so I thought we ought to have us a conversation about some of the prepping options that are available.

I always found it useful on holidays when the kids weren’t coming over to work on my hobbies.

At the time, I was living on a 40-foot sailboat in Seattle, so one year I decided to become involved in the annual “Christmas Ships” parade.  With a great power system on the boat,, it was not problem to make a 50-foot string of Christmas tree lights, hoisted aloft at the center by the mainsail halyard.  Floating blinking trees are a marvel.

It was so much fun (playing follow-the-leader) that the next night, I took the boat out, put the engine in neutral (the engine heater was welcome below decks as it was cold and showery) and I just drifted around on the north side of the 520 Evergreen Point floating bridge, knowing how much in earlier years, I’d enjoyed the view of boats with Christmas lights against the black background of the lake or Puget Sound.   It was wonderful to imagine the view from the bridge.

For me, it was one way to pass the time in a productive way.  Single-handing a 40-foot boat isn’t hard.  It’s the docking with a moderate wind that gets challenging, in the rain, and all.

There are other ways to get involved, too.

A good book, or better, a good author with a series is always a safe bet.  My favorite serial author was (and still is) Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series.  Cussler’s latest is Havana Storm (A Dirk Pitt Adventure).

Dirk Pitt, not to spoil the read, is a man’s man kind of fellow.  Collector of antique cars, a scuba-diving mining and underwater operations expert, he travels the world with all kinds of adventures. 

Surprisingly, the Dirk Pitt character didn’t translate into film as well as I would have thought.  But if you have seen the movie version of the Pitt adventure “”SAHARA BY MCCONAUGHEY,MATTHEW (DVD)” it’s still one of our favorite movies.  We drag it out every so often because the characters are characters, the music is great, there’s a plot to it and it’s just….well….Cussler-like.

His latest new character (once you’ve enjoyed at least half a dozen of of the Dirk Pitt books, is Isaac Bell who is the #2 man and head of operations for a detective agency in the early 20th century.  As such, he has one adventure set in the San Francisco area, at the time of the Great Earthquake there.  It’s in the historical grounding of his novels that Cussler really shines.

Most authors just tell a story.  But others, well they just start weaving a story.  Not Cussler, though.  He sets his stories against actual historical events that you can look up for yourself.

I’ve been debating posting one of my longer writings (like the first three chapters of my novel) just in case you have an interest….

But now, back to point:

It’s been  my observation that a lot of people don’t spend much, if any time, in solitude, any more.  There’s always a beep, a text, a tweet…one damn thing, or other, that conspires to keep up from working on one of the most important parts of life:  Internal alignment.

It only took me about one lonesome Holiday to blow through that depression stuff, but that’s not to say it’s not real and must be faced down or it will haunt you forever.  The Robert Service poem, The Quitter was particularly useful.

All of us are going to die, of that I’m nearly certain.  But I don’t see any sense in trying to elbow to the front of that line until I’ve worked out a good bit more wandering around through life.

Even things like terminal disease has a point to it, multiple moments of learning and self discovery.  I assume you know Life itself is a terminal disease, a kind of waiting room for the Hereafter.

Life  has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and winter around the holidays is a great time to do some exploring.  Hiking in the woods with snow falling, sailing in snow, or for me being anchored our with a diesel stove going, head popped out an open hatch and seeing deer come down to the beach; exploring in the last of the light, hoof prints visible in the snow on wet sand.

Being alone, I man really alone, is not something most people do.  Why?  I couldn’t tell you but I suspect it’s because so few people really like themselves.  It takes a little bit of work and often results in personal change.

“You got to learn to respect yourself,” a black friend told me growing up.  “Do that and others will respect you, too.” 

That may seem like a minor thing to mention, but the concept in the black community (“respect yoseff”)  may be one reason why the black suicide rate runs a bit over 5% while the white suicide rate is over 14%!  It’s the mindset that matters.

You go to a shopping mall (with no one to buy gifts for, all that is done) and watch the people go by from a bench on the sidelines.  Doing the same thing in the springtime reveals that people’s shopping behaviors aren’t really any different.  People are mostly the same year-round, at least on the outside.  Holidays give us the chance to be exceptional, inside and out.

There will be more parties, of course, more drug and alcohol abuse, but that’s because average people have a way of doing average things.  Put a single man with nothing to look forward to back home, in a bar on a cold Holiday evening, and the odds of a DUI/DWI seem to escalate pretty fast.

Not that there aren’t alternatives; the world is full of opportunity, even on a Holiday eve.

Books, movies you haven’t seen, doing a little writing yourself, pursuing some aspect of a hobby, or just doing something “Christmassy” like volunteering to work a soup kitchen…it’s all part of the learning process.

So our greatest respect to Cordell & Cordell for paying for ads suggesting that any single men you know be included in your holiday plans.  That’s  a fine stand-up thing, particularly viewed by those of us who have been there, done that, and never missed a child support payment along the way.  Everyone deserves Christmas of some sort.

Adversity builds character and every parent, of either sex, who’s spent a holiday alone is probably better for it in the long run if you work it right.  It’s a time to think over values and make plans how to pass those along.  Even if opportunity comes only every other weekend.  It also explains in stark relief who your real friends are.

I wanted to mention this today in order that people might post some useful thoughts on the comment side of Urban…ideas that have helped you through a particularly brutal bout of emotional pain at this time of year.

I think we’d all agree around here that “You’ve got to be able to help yourself in order to help others.”  That’s at the core of a prepper’s mindset.  But methinks too often we tend to under-weight the importance of emotional prepping, since it is far easier to buy a fire-starter and a few cans of beans and consider yourself prepped. Uh…don’t quite work that way.

But a different kind of threat is upon us now.  The 45-59 demographic is the highest risk age group when comes to suicide, a trend that’s rising, by the way.  It’s also reported elsewhere that suicides increasing over the holidays is something of a myth, but as is noted over here, people tend to visit shrinks more, immediately after Christmas.

So with it obvious that we can all have issues this time of the year, it’s worth it up front to “get ahead of the problem.  If you can see something coming, it can be prepped for.

With our kids all off doing their own things this Christmas, we’ll be taking on an impossibly big project and push to get it done by  the end of New Years.  If the weather clears, we might jump in the plane and head west, but the big holiday project has my eye just now

Odd way to look at prepping, but all of life is between the ears, so a huge amount of prepping emphasis should be placed where?

Exactly!  And since you own that Kingdom within, it’s a good time to ask “How are things in your Kingdom?  Ready for anything that may come?”

Write when you break-even