Around this time of year, people can be seen joyously singing Christmas carols, happily shopping at the local malls and enjoying the season. This can be seen in movies, TV and advertisements enticing you to spend your gift giving dollars with them. In reality, this time of year is a time of increased sadness, a time of losses remembered and people who have left our lives. Many people suffer from increased depression during the holidays. Seasonal depression is very active now. The current issues with the uncertain economic forecast does not help the situation. Suicides go up during Christmas season. Crisis lines are gearing up for more activity this year than previous ones. More people are feeling isolated, uncertain and plain fearful than ever before. We are seen as a nation of plenty, a place where everyone wants to come to get a piece of the American dream. Today's reality of the "dream" is fear, economic turmoil, political dysfunction and violence. People with mental health issues are especially vulnerable to these issues as their very livelihood could be jeopardized by proposed budgetary cuts. Children will be impacted not only by their own benefits being cut but also those of their parents who may also have mental health issues. The promise of the new year is tarnished by the harsh reality of our current situation. We have record numbers out of work. We have a records numbers who have been out of work for a year or more. These people have children. They share in their parents stress, and that manifests in them through problems at school . This year, while you are out shopping, or just in route to an interview, take time to pay attention to people around you. Remember the true reason for the season is not about money or gifts. Take time to smile at people you see. Listen to what they say. If you can, please donate to a charity locally that will make sure families have a Christmas. Churches please be sure to offer your congregation the support and love they so desperately need especially during the holidays. Take time to hear if someone is hurting. Take time to sit with them and ask them if they are thinking of hurting themselves. You may be the one person who gives them the reason to go one for one more day. That one more day could be the one that turns it all around for them. You never know how big an impact you have on someone else's life; just be the change you want to see in the world. If we begin to show concern and caring for each other, we will give our kids a legacy that will serve them greatly no matter what their future holds. I know it will last much longer than an X-Box or Ipod, and the batteries will last much longer.