Surviving the Holidays
As the upcoming festivities of the season approach, and the stores begin to push the sparkles and spangles and lights and baubles, some of us feel the excitement building - the gleam of holiday cheer holds a promise of time with family and friends, crisp days and cozy nights, carols and toddies and celebrations galore! Who doesn't want that, right?
Here's the thing: we want a Norman Rockwell holiday, and sometimes we end up with the Addams Family. We're lead to believe that only by fulfilling every available holiday cliche will we have a truly happy holiday season. Only when we have strewn decorations throughout our living space, when we have stacked gifts to the ceiling for everyone we know, when we have scoured the interwebs for five star recipes and exquisite homemade ornaments, will we have a truly satisfying celebration worthy of our family and friends.
The holidays can actually be a time of anxiety. Life and its struggles don't take a vacation from mid-November until January. Family members, friends, colleagues are still who they are, and although we'd like to believe that the holidays make people a little kinder, a little nicer, a little more human, that doesn't always happen. Feeling as though we must purchase the latest and greatest gifts for others often adds a financial burden; being unable to meet our own and others' expectations adds a layer of guilt and low self worth to the mix.
There are a number of reasons that people don't look forward to, and even dread, the holidays: family tension and rifts, a breakup, separation or divorce, social anxiety, death of a loved one, loss of friends over time. It may be that, for whatever reason, the upcoming season is one of sadness and despair. Acknowledging that reality, recognizing that perspective, allowing that feeling of sadness is actually a gift we can give ourselves. The further we try to force it down, stuff it in, hide it away, the longer it will affect us, no matter the season. Working through those emotions can be challenging and difficult, yes; it can also be rewarding and ultimately freeing, allowing us to release that which no longer serves us, to finally move forward again and re-enter life with hope in our hearts.