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Senior Momentum - December 2015 - The Holidays, Just in Time . . .


The Holidays, Just in Time . . .

by Zoe Tummillo

The Holidays, Just in Time . . .

There are years when the holiday season feels like it is arriving just in time to rescue! Suddenly we get to climb a little bit outside ourselves. Spirits lift, we consider friendly gatherings, do charitable volunteering, find gifts for special people in our lives and anticipate a brand new year just weeks away. It’s that traditional “new beginning” feeling.

This time, there are certainly far too many (right here, close to home) who experienced tragedies during a heartbreaking 2015 – a year of loss. Ready or not, like it or not, a heavy duty new beginning is what they face. It is difficult for the rest of us to fairly grasp how devastating the wildfires and floods were as they violently snatched away everything material – and, too often, human and wildlife itself – from so many. 

I wonder what will shape these holidays for them? It will surely be a test of fortitude, as well as one of survival. Where will the strength come from that is needed to just keep moving forward, keep some measure of laughter and festivity alive for the children and to convince yourself that the old cliché is probably true? This, too, shall pass!

A drive through devastated wildfire paths in Napa and Lake counties to the north is a journey that puts a lot into perspective. Some of the scenes remind one of photos of war torn places far away – heaps of burned rubble, with brick chimneys standing alone like sentinels in the middle. (No Santa’s table with milk and cookies waiting there...) It’s important to see the mountains with skeleton trees outlined against the sky, marching across the ridgelines. Or, acres and acres of burned out vehicles stacked three and four high, waiting to be hauled away. 

There are some, I’m told, suffering with “survivors’ guilt” where one home may stand alone, unharmed, surrounded by neighbors burned down to mere heaps of ash and twisted metal. It’s a phenomenon where the untouched structure was in the vortex of whirling winds that kept it safe, one expert explained. It reminded me of the skater several years ago who was injured, had to drop out of the competition and cried out: Why me? This “guilty” survivor asks, with mixed emotions: Why not me? 

The courage and optimism out there is something to see! There was a small travel trailer parked in a virtual pond of ashes, right beside the shell of their fireplace. It had a loop of holiday lights strung between! Holiday spirit to the rescue...

Is it in time, this time? For so many, the 2015 holidays are forever unique and changed – some say for the better. (After all, several said, it’s only “things” we’ve lost.) One man said these would be the first holidays when he’d be thankful for what he’d lost (which was everything) because for the first time in his life he could clearly see the value of what he’d had.

It is easy to see what is close at hand – our nearby neighbors in towns that burned out or were landslide or flood victims. But let’s not forget there were many tragedies all across our nation, with plenty of heartbreak to go around.

These winter season holidays mean different things for different people; yet, in many ways we are all connected. We put expectations on our holidays through our traditions. When everything gets turned upside down and thrown out of balance, it can really test the integrity and meaning of all of it. We infuse our traditions with considerable emotional power and strength. If there ever was a time when 2015’s victims had high expectations and needed that strength, it is surely now.



Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: