Holiday Loneliness and White Bean Chili

This White Bean Chili recipe is one of the easiest dishes to make for company–a real crowd pleaser, for any age, any season–and perfect for the reluctant entertainer!

White Bean Chili

Yesterday we hosted 40 people in our home for a chili party. It was casual, fun, our kids invited their high school friends’ families. We all felt loved, accepted, warm, the vibe of the holiday season as Christmas music was playing, and we were getting involved in each other’s lives.

White Bean Chili

The holidays are a great time to connect, but for the lonely person, they can be so painful. I think about their pain, missing family, not feeling like they can reach out, possibly feeling like they have nothing to offer. It is an inward pain that most of us do not experience every day. It’s also so lonely, even when you’re surrounded by those who love you, when you’re missing a loved one who has passed away. I’ve been there … nothing fills that void.

I wrote about loneliness years ago, and want to share these simple tips again. Think of someone you know who is lonely this week, and invite them in to your home, or go and visit them. Even if you’re serving a pot of chili, people just want to be loved. It’s really not about the food, but the connection and the fact that we care about each other.

Open you doors.

Learn to open the doors of your home, in whatever season of life you are in. Introduce yourself to others and invite them in. If you’re reluctant to entertain, keep it simple and make a big pot of chili the night before! Ask guests to each bring a side (corn bread or crunchy hot bread, salad, dessert), and you’re set! We have new neighbors in our neighborhood–we’ve already invited them in.

Become a friend.

Don’t sit back and mourn because you think no one cares about you, or your family! Start getting involved in other people’s lives. Ask a lot of questions – show interest in their lives and when the time is right, invite them over for a meal! You cannot feel sorry for yourself. I think this is a step that lonely people are missing. It starts with YOU.

Friendship offers benefits to our emotional and physical health. Loneliness can cause high blood pressure and problems with sleep. Lonely people are even at higher risk for Alzheimer’s later in life! Being open and authentic with others will actually help combat loneliness.

Lose your FEAR.

We’ve learned ourselves, and taught our kids, how fear robs and steals. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real and we see it all the time–snatching lives right and left. People do not want to be vulnerable, because they’ve either been burned or rejected, so they hide. If we want to grow in life, we have to get beyond those feelings. Learn from bad experiences – read, pray, find healthy friends, exercise. We can’t let bad experiences squelch future relationships that may have great potential.

Be Yourself.

Entertaining in our home has become easy for my husband and me. Early on we decided: We are who we are. When we invite people over, they get the real us. We are willing to open up, share, be vulnerable, and not pretend. You have to be yourself, because that is what people are attracited to–authenticity.

Paul and I know that we need this accountability and closeness with others. We know that we find value in friendships (new and old). We’ve learned to offer friendship– and we’ve learned to ask for friendship! It’s called investing in lives, and it goes both ways.

The lesson for myself, as we entertained about 40 guests yesterday, is to be aware of others.

If you find yourself at a holiday party this week, look around the room for a lonely person and go talk to them.

Inquire about others.

If you’re the lonely person at a party, step outside of yourself and start talking to someone else. Be purposeful and have 3 questions in mind that you can ask others about their lives. I’m always amazed when I visit with certain people how much they can talk about themselves, and not ask one question about me or my family. I’m a big girl, I don’t need to talk about myself at all (I’d rather not!), but I do take note that some people just are not good conversationalists!

White Bean Chili

White Bean Chili.

I’m also headed to some retirement homes to visit some friends this week. It’s important to think of our isolated older friends as well, and spread holiday cheer with them.

In fact, I think I will take a bowl White Bean Chili wrapped up with a big red bow, and make sure I sit down and visit and ask them about their lives.

A lovely holiday gift – good food and connection.

It’s what we all crave.

What will you be doing this week to combat loneliness in your life, or the lives of others?

White Bean Chili

White Bean Chili

Quick and easy–ready for company–recipe! Substitute ground turkey with ground beef, or make it vegetarian. If you don’t have Trader Joe’s corn chili, use plain corn and double the salsa.

Ingredients:

1 large sweet onion, diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 oz.) cans Bush’s cannelini beans, drained
2 (15 oz.) cans Bush’s great northern beans, drained
2 cups salsa
1 cup corn chili (I buy at Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper
1 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the ground turkey to the onions and cook until done for 5 minutes; strain. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large chili pot add the tomatoes, beans, salsa, corn chili, spices, and the meat mixture. Heat on medium high for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the fresh cilantro, stir and serve with chili toppings such as green onions, red onions, sour cream, cheese, salsa, and chips.

Season to taste!

All images and text ©

9 comments on “Holiday Loneliness and White Bean Chili”

  1. Beautifully written, friend. And this chili looks like the perfect comfort food (for the heart too) this holiday season. :)

  2. sounds like a great new chili to add to my recipe box. I assist an elderly lady 4 days a week for about 3 hours a day, and it is so sad how lonely she can be especially around this time. She has family but isn’t very close to them, we typically invite her to my mIL house often , sometimes she joins us, sometimes she doesn’t.

    My MIL is a beautiful example of having the “lonely” over especially during holidays. It is a rare occasion that it is just our family for any given holiday. And we love it.

    • We have some beautiful role models in our life, don’t we? Love that you assist an elderly woman, Kirstin. So awesome for our kids to watch, too! Merry Christmas!

  3. I’m one of those lonely people this year…it sucks is all I can say. Happy holidays to you and thanks for posting this. I can’t seem to get off the pity pot and change my thinking…ending a 10yr relationship and no job has me stuck

  4. Taking a meal Christmas Eve to a single Mother and her family. She doesn’t celebrate holidays because she doesn’t have the money, but hopefully a home-cooked meal will put her in the Christmas spirit! Thank you for the recipe and article. Loving and doing for others is really what Christmas is all about!

  5. This looks like a delicious chili recipe!!!

  6. Thank you for posting a nice chili recipe and for your words of wisdom/encouragement for the lonley. My husband and I moved to a new area a little over a year ago, and while we have made friends with all of the neighbors, it has been over 6 months since we have all done anything together. I keep wanting to invite them over, but have become so “locked in my shell” I can’t seem to do it. I am not an introvert in the least, so I can’t explain this apprehension. But it’s isolating and narrow. And Christmas holidays are difficult, lost my mom 4 years ago on Christmas Eve, and both of my children live away and will not be home.
    But you are exactly right in the fact that it begins with me. I am in charge here and I need to get off my tuckus and get in gear. I have got to stop feeling anxious about having folks over and just relax. Easier said than done, but I’m going to work on it. Starting today. Good advice, and the kick in the pants that I needed.
    Merry Christmas to all, and if you are a lonley person too, I send out a hug to you.

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