We are in the throes of the holiday seasons and no matter how your Thanksgiving turned out, I hope these few words will encourage you to face Christmas with healthy, hopeful expectations. If you need a fresh start because Thanksgiving was a disaster, not to worry - we’ve all been there for various reasons and we don’t have to let it color our Christmas.
Pressure Cooker Fails
This is not going to turn into a food blog, although food is one of my favorite things. I think we can all agree that there is a lot of pressure that comes with the holidays. Calendars get filled with all sorts of extra things from recitals to parties to end of year commitments. It is said that people spend around 20% more than their budget during this time of year - so many gifts to buy, baked goods to deliver, big meals to prep, unusual travel. And none of these things could necessarily be categorized as “bad things.” Who doesn’t love to be home for the holidays or see the face light up with the perfect gift or the memories made over holiday cookies?
And yet so many of us find ourselves running on fumes, stressed out and exhausted by the time the festivities are over. Perhaps there is a different way to take what is good and let it stay good so that we don’t explode with the added pressure of trying to make it more than it needs to be.
Christmas is a beautiful time of year, filled with expectation and excitement - that literally was the first Christmas experience! The long-awaited Messiah, finally come. And there was plenty of stress that came along with the story - mandated cross country move, housing struggles, first time labor without family support, etc. Maybe we can allow ourselves to let the challenges that come not lessen the actual good that is still present? So the cookies got a little burned - add some more frosting or dunk it in milk or hot coco. But even in the harder times - an unexpected life flight or cancellation of a much desired trip to be with family or financial struggle - I truly do think it’s possible to not have to positive-think the negative away, but to actually still find what is good in the midst of the bad. Coping with disappointments in a healthy manner can help us all stay grounded in reality and not miss out on what we still have to enjoy.
Holidays can be hard to celebrate when loss has struck our lives. The pressures of being extra-social or happy or motivated can feel even more painful when our hearts are missing a loved one, no matter how long it’s been since he/she passed. Emotions can be like waves - the comfortable feelings and the uncomfortable ones come and go. Sometimes the waves can be a little scary to ride because they can be so big. Are there others nearby (physically or by tech) who can ride the waves with you? Are there special ways you can remember and honor your loved one by hanging a special decoration or keeping up a tradition or giving time to share memories? Maybe finding ways to allow your grief to be an acceptable part of your celebrations will help you ride through the waves this year.
Celebrating What’s Important
There may be stats out there that show 3 holiday parties, 7 plates of cookies for neighbors and coworkers, and 1 gift of $16.50 or less per family member are the makings for a stress-free holiday, but numbers have never been my strong suit. May I suggest that we take a little time to reflect on what is really important to us during our celebrations? And if we can prioritize what really matters and allow the disappointments that come to not derail us, perhaps we can still give and receive the good things that we all really need and want anyway: being loved and loving in return. Christmas at its best.
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