I hate the holidays this year. I mean, normally they're kind of a stress-fest, but I've always spent at least part of them in the company of people I love. Not this year. This year, I'm working, out at sea, thousands of miles from anyone I actually care about, in the company of a crew of virtual strangers. There is nothing on the boat that feels festive; no tree, no lights, no decoration. Yes, I signed on for this gig, for what seemed like good reasons at the time. Maybe, given my mental state, it was even the right choice. But it doesn't feel that way now. Now it's just lonely. I haven't had a hug in weeks. I haven't had more than the briefest of conversations with family or friends in as long. And I want my puppy, whom I've not seen in months. So I've been avoiding, as much as possible, anything to do with the holidays. Mostly this only means skipping over a lot of Facebook posts and not opening threads that are holiday-related, which unfortunately means almost all of them. As Christmas approaches, this becomes ever more difficult, and my sense of isolation deepens. I didn't think it would be this hard.