There will be many people this holiday season who will be spending the holidays alone. There are numerous reasons for this, spanning the practical to the circumstantial to the preferential.

Some will choose not to spend Christmas with their families, and others will choose not to open the door even if the former would come. It is a sad tale that has plagued the peace-filled season for as long as I have been on earth and earlier still. Something…whatever that thing…gets in the way. And try as each party might, that thing just can’t find a way to mend itself. “Right” fraught with “anger” stands in the way.

I don’t know one family that has not experienced this dilemma, including my own. And at some point, try as you might, you ultimately come to realize that all of the convincing, the logic, and the prayers won’t bring you any closer to reaching resolution. In fact, anything you do simply adds to the divide. So when is it that you stop trying? When do you allow ‘acceptance’ to settle in?

Those are two very different questions but both “important,” nonetheless.

Me. I don’t think that you ever stop trying. And, I believe, that most elderly people would agree. Wise in their years, they are long on insight with regards to the matter. They are also laden with advice, including the need to sometimes do “nothing” in order to provoke the results you wish for.

It’s not an easy task. The discomfort of “your hands being tied” can really drive some to the edge. But for others, they settle into the resolution of acceptance, patience, and hope much more easily because they realize that it is the best path to, eventually, reversing the current, heartbreaking tide.

How is it that humanity arrived to the earth with the handicap of not realizing just how short life is? So much would change if that realization lived in our hearts from the get-go. We’d value “time” and “each other” so much more.

But it just isn’t the way things are. We live with that handicap and the naivete and dramatic mistakes that go with.

As so many parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, children and more will be grappling with an empty space at their holiday dinner tables this season, I offer this post to move you to think. Is that space truly empty or merely waiting for a loved one to fill it? Someone who doesn’t know how to find their way back and feels they aren’t welcomed. Open that door and leave it open.

It is never to late. There is always plenty of room in the manger.