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Wintertime Poses Many Threats

Photo by Kofler Jürgen

Photo by Kofler Jürgen

While in Alaska, some years ago, I noticed the deteriorating effect of the long, dark days on the Eskimos and on all of us living in Bethel.  With only 4 hours of daylight during the winter months, along with fierce, unrelenting cold, a heavy, depressing feeling would possess our spirits.  Personal disagreements increased and negative attitudes toward life escalated as the dark months wore on.

Life took on a grim look with few laughs and uplifting happenings.  For 9 months of the year, Bethel, the largest community in Western Alaska, has no outlet to the world except by jet plane.  Many tragic incidents took place in the personal lives and in the family circles of our people.  Cabin-fever, although not listed in the medical books, came to be a sickly reality in the lives of the people of Bethel, and in mine too.

We Chicagoans face a less fearful winter season of darkness and cold than the 6,300 residents of Bethel do.  Nonetheless, we come upon a time filled with possibilities of depression and pent-up feelings of tension and loneliness.  I encourage you to work diligently to bring light, laughter and relaxing diversions into your family life.  To start you thinking, I offer you a few suggestions on dealing with these real threats to your peace and spirit of joy.

Fill your homes with much light.  Turn on some extra lamps.  Brightness lessens the effect of the darkness.  However, at suppertime, try to use candles and soft light for the atmosphere.  A joyful dinner together helps the fight against loneliness.

Use bright, cheerful, lively music to lift up your spirits.  Phone your friends more often, especially the shut-ins.  Refuse to take out your “down feelings” on the rest of the family.   Support each other with “good nature kidding.”

Buy games that all the family can use together to build up a notion of togetherness and oneness.  When dispirited, get out of the house and walk through the local supermarkets and shopping malls.  Meet people.

Bring bright, even gaudy colors into your home.  I buy gaily colored bed sheets, cheap ones, and use them to cover my furniture and books shelves in all kinds of hues.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

January 3, 2015 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , , ,


  1. Once again Fr. McKenna great suggestions, the holidays are full of light in remembrance of the Christ child, but once those lights come down the dreariness of winter sets in, I like your idea of turning on more lights during this time and if we could remember how blessed we are having received Christ’s light every time we flipped the switch it will brighten our days even more. The light of Christ shines brightly through you and your words, thank you, Debra Hurley

    Comment by Anonymous | January 3, 2015 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Father, Great advice! All blessings to you in the new year! Terry and Ellen Hodges

    Comment by ellen hodges | January 3, 2015 | Reply

  3. Hi Fr. George! Happy New Year! I saw on the news that there are forecasted wind chill factors of -20 to -30 for the Chicago area… yikes! that is dangerous! yes, we have a great darkness here over the winter, due to our latitude, our sunset is earlier than in the Midwest but at least we are now gaining day light every day! Some people use special lamps to simulate the sunshine so that they are not as depressed in the gloominess. And I once read a study that you should get outside – because even on the cloudiest day, it is 10,000 times brighter than indoors. Fresh air if you can manage it. Our dogs force us to get outside, no matter what the weather!

    I am enjoying the Christmas season and the readings of the Gospel at this time! I still have my tree up – hate to take it down as I love Christmas and due to illness, it went up so late this year, but I guess I better take it down this week sometime. Thank you for the great advice listed above! I don’t do so every day, but when I can say my Rosary, I feel ‘lighter’ and brighter – knowing that Mary is interceding on my behalf. And going to Mass, that too makes me feel better. So many years I was not attending – and now I cherish the time spent at Mass! Thank you for all of your support and advice over these past years! Praying for you daily, Fr. George! I love you!


    Comment by nancywest22 | January 4, 2015 | Reply

  4. You made me smile with the idea of the brightly colored (even gaudy) colored sheets over the furniture! Your sweet blog posts always cheer me and bring smiles…I hope you know how much you touch people with your sweet genuine way! You are a blessing to many people!! Take care of yourself! Blessings, Beth and Brian

    Comment by Beth Doyle | January 4, 2015 | Reply

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