Writer: Beth Hallman | Many of us have to get through the holidays, not celebrate them. And that’s such sadness, y’all. When we should be able to simply enjoy our friends and family, we find ourselves overwhelmed by all manner of obligations, negativity, or even worse- negative obligations. We can find a way to celebrate instead of endure the holidays if we’re mindful of what may distress us. Below is a list of some of those things. Be mindful.
Stress and tension will rise during this time of year, because life is still going on while you’re trying to find 24 clever ways for that demonic elf to delightfully surprise your child each morning. You still have to go to work, wash your clothes, and feed the dogs, but you’re gonna throw in the book club Christmas brunch, a shopping trip for your mom, bake twelve dozen cookies, send out cards to people you haven’t seen in twenty years, and attend the living Christmas tree at your neighbor’s church… Oh, and you still have to buy a Secret Santa gift for the girl in accounting you loathe. All of that extra stuff gets piled onto your already overcrowded plate. Stop. Just stop. If you try to do everything, you end up enjoying nothing. Make a list. Prioritize. Go forth and be merry.
The holidays put us in the same room with folks we avoid the rest of the year. We avoid them for good reason. Remember, they are who they are. You can’t control them, but you can control you. If now’s the time to tell Aunt Sophie to stop obsessing about the size of your hips, do it. If you’d simply rather smile at her while she drones on and on, knowing the event will end soon, do that. You get to make your own choices about your behavior, not Aunt Sophie’s, so don’t stress over her. And listen, what if you didn’t go to that holiday gathering? You didn’t sign a contract to be at holiday functions. If you don’t want to go, don’t.
You may find yourself reliving every bad memory in the entire history of you. Quit. Seriously. Just quit it. Your childhood happened. Your life has happened. Now is not the time for you to dive into any horrors you may have experienced. Now is not the time for you to go there. Unpack that in January with a trusted friend or your therapist. If you find yourself experiencing depression or anxiety, get help. If you find yourself sinking, call in the Coast Guard, friends.
Your idea of perfect has reached out and snatched the joy out of the holidays. You want the perfect gift, the perfect tree, the perfect meal, the perfect sleigh ride in the park, and the perfectly pitched party of carolers to serenade you on Christmas Eve. Your life isn’t a Hallmark card. There’s no such thing as perfect. Love what you have. Love the perfectly imperfect people in your perfectly imperfect life.
Some Stuff Changed This Year
You may have experienced a death. The holidays are going to be excruciatingly difficult. You may have been divorced. Now, you’re trying to navigate who gets the kids when. You may have moved and don’t know as many folks. The holidays feel incredibly lonely. Recognize what you’re feeling. Talk about it. Do not isolate yourself. Don’t pretend this isn’t hard. Reach out for help.
Some Stuff Stayed the Same
Those forced holiday get togethers with the family? Yeah. That’s the same. You’re still single. You’re still married. You’re still at that sucky job. It’s the same old same old and, just like the stuff that changed, some of the stuff that stayed the same hurts. Be aware. Talk about it. Write about it. Get it out. Don’t circle your wagons.
Your Body Is Under Assault
Cold and flu season is upon us. It gets dark earlier. You’re eating more, sleeping less. It’s the perfect set-up for a breakdown. Now is the time to make time for yourself. You can’t go, go, go if you’re sick or exhausted. Get enough rest. Eat food that fuels you well. Get sunshine as much as you can. Meditate. It’s hard to feel the holiday spirit when you’re physically ill.
The holidays are here for you to experience. They’re happening. You get to decide what your life is in December just like you do the rest of the year. So, go to the parties you wanna attend. Bake or don’t. Give Aunt Sophie a kiss and walk away. Navigating the holidays will be easier when you know where the bumps in the road are.