In the classic Christmas film Home Alone, Kevin McCallister is inadvertently abandoned by his entire family as they forget bring him on their Paris vacation. The pre-teen is left home all alone with nothing to play with except his action figures and his pet tarantula.
While Home Alone is a fictional movie, many Canadians are literally home alone for the holidays without anyone to spend time with.
Across Canada, almost one in four Canadians aged 50 to 64 years (23 per cent) reported being very lonely according to the National Institute of Aging.
In Alberta, many people are socializing less to cut spending and are experiencing “a sense of loneliness” because of higher interest rates and inflation.
It’s even impacting my generation, Gen Z, where 73 per cent feel alone either sometimes or always.
As a young boy, I always loved the movie Home Alone because of the elaborate booby traps Kevin used to fend off the goofy, inept kidnappers. But I think the most important scene in the movie is where Kevin interacts with Marley, his mysterious elderly neighbour at his local church. Initially, Kevin believes his older brother’s stories that Marley is a “shovel slayer” who murdered his family and disposed of them in a salt bin.
But Kevin’s prejudice against Marley is based on unsupported fears of the unfamiliar. Through a heartfelt conversation at a local church choir concert, Kevin learns Marley is simply a lonely grandfather who is estranged from his son. And unlike the grumpy old man stereotype, Marley is kind and understanding. With a simple conversation, the relationship between the two shifts into a powerful bond.
We live during a time where many of us barely know our own neighbours. While receiving gifts can be nice, it’s really the people we spend time with that matters.
Text people “Merry Christmas” to those you haven’t communicated with in a while and ask how they’re doing. Consider volunteering at a local food bank. Maybe even something small like saying ‘hi’ to a stranger at the library. Let’s redefine what the holidays are about – community.