To the editor: As we approach the holidays, family becomes an integral part of everyone's mindset.

My family used to be close, but since I lost my dad in 1995, it is not any more. My dad was the glue of the family, which accounts for the breakup after he was gone. Not only are your parents married, but you are "married" to your siblings also, as you spend your life with them like a marriage.

My brother refuses to have any contact with me; I don't know why. The situation is not one that I fueled. Fortunately, my sister and I are close, which makes up somewhat for that. My parents were good parents, though overprotective. Being a Holocaust survivor, my dad wanted me to marry a Jew, but that never happened. As a matter of fact, I never even got married. 

Family is not always biological, but whomever you are close to. That is a friend, a spouse or even your dog. A friend of mine is food, which I'm going to try to change. Food only insulates you from problems, but does not solve them. At holiday time, food tends to become everyone's friend.

I have come to the conclusion that holidays only enhance your lack of family because there is so much pressure to make the public feel like they should celebrate family, even when there is none. Christmas is not a big deal to me like it is to everyone else, particularly since my mom and dad are not with us anymore. That is just the way I feel.

It is bad to use food as a crutch, but using drugs or alcohol is even worse. Food is an addiction the same as drugs are, only food is something that we cannot live without — alcohol and illegal drugs you can.

Whatever your circumstances, stay warm and happy holidays.

Diane Ditman, Pittsfield