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by Abigail Van Buren

Widower Dreading Christmas Will Feel Better Reaching Out

DEAR ABBY: Christmas is coming, and I dread it. I have only my brother, his wife and their kids. I'm on Social Security disability and I barely make it each month. They buy me gifts, but I feel embarrassed to accept them because I can't buy anything for them. It makes me feel small.

Even though I have nothing to offer my nieces, my brother and sister-in-law persuade me to go anyway. They are financially much better off than I am.

I lost my wife a year ago. I see everyone else having someone in their lives and I feel alone. There's just me and my dog now. The holidays hurt. What can I do? -- MISERABLE IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR MISERABLE: You have something to give to your relatives. It's the gift of your presence. If you have a talent, share it with them.

Because this is your first Christmas without your wife, it's no wonder you feel alone. At this time of year, many people do. A way to lessen the sense of isolation would be to do something for someone else. If you're able, volunteer at a food bank, a homeless shelter, a senior center. It will give you less time to brood, and you will feel welcome and needed.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Money | Death