On a recent trip I was walking toward baggage claim and out of the corner of my eye I noticed a couple of preschool age boys waiting with their grandmother. They were grinning from ear to ear and jumping up and down. I looked over my shoulder and saw the object of their joy, their mother. I smiled to myself remembering when my own children were that young age, so full of energy and excitement. Such a delightful and comforting feeling felt all the way to your toes when someone is that happy to see you.
We tend to save this sort of pleasantry for someone special we haven't seen in a long time or the favorite people in our lives. Even then I've seen how easy it is to get busy and forget to show thoughtfulness and appreciation even to those we see everyday. There is danger in this. One can feel taken for granted or unwanted and relationships can be harmed over time.
Sometimes letting someone know "I care about you" is a bit difficult. There is a level of vulnerability there. The shy part of me feels a tad embarrassed. Sure we can show others we care through our actions, but we also need to hear it. We need others in our lives to jump and down for us. It hurts if no one notices what we do.
As materialistic as holidays have become, they can be structured reminders to show gratitude to one another. I try my best to send cards and Facebook birthday wishes that truly mean it. Those notes your parent left in your lunch as a kid could be anonymously put on a coworker's desk or your spouse's mirror.
Loneliness affects emotional and physical health. It is painful. We are social beings. We need each other. Reach out. Show gratitude. Gratitude brings joy.