We just had a storm that ended in a freezing rain which coated everything outside. I look out my windows upon a world that is Frozen: encased in a silvery wrap of ice. It’s lovely, but difficult to navigate. Just like the Holidays.
This year has been a tough one. I have said it before, and it bears repeating. I, like many of my friends, have been having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit. The list of reasons is too long, (mine includes losing my Mom, getting diagnosed with an illness, and adjusting to the “new normal” of that diagnosis) but you know how hard the daily infusion of bad news is for the minds and souls of each of us. Enough said.
The thing about Holidays, is that many of us carry the “Hallmark Card” syndrome within us. We believe, deep down, that the images of perfectly happy families and cheerful celebrations among totally functional groups of relatives are Real, and we should be a part of those images, which are Frozen within our consciousness. We should be singing Carols, drinking festive punch, greeting guests at the wreath-laden doors of our homes, and sharing special intimate moments with our partners.
Well, Virginia, there may be a Santa Claus, but a lot of the rest of this stuff is Madison Avenue humbug! No, I am not Ebenezer; I just think we’ve been sold so much that pressures us each Holiday into thinking no matter how many blessings we have, it is never enough. We are stuck with goals that are unrealistic and that make us, in the end, feel sad and guilty and exhausted.
The first thing we need to do is let ourselves off the hook. If your Christmas doesn’t look like the final scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, it’s all right: hardly anyone’s Christmas looks like that. We are imperfect creatures and that’s okay, too. I think the Person whose Birthday we celebrate had a few things to say about that subject; we are bound to fail as part of the deal of being humans. So take a breath, and have a sugar cookie.
As the Grinch found out, Christmas will come without the presents and bells and pantookas. It will come anyway. It may find you sad or tired or depressed or sullen. But it will find you. If you decide to make it welcome, your Season will be happier and less stressful.
Some of my friends are sad because of the loss of a loved one this year, and some are sad because they feel the accumulation of too much loss over the past years. Some are lonely, living lives without the comfort of a significant Other or family to share the Season. Some are sick, and struggling with just getting through another day, much less a Holiday. But for whatever reason, their sadness seems magnified by the Hallmark reminder of all they don’t have. All of these are valid reasons to feel like you don’t want any part of Christmas, and it should just go away.
However, I am here to tell you that we can enjoy this time if we want. We just need to let ourselves appreciate the little things that come our way, and forget all the Frozen pressures we keep carrying around. I am telling you this, dear Reader, because I need to tell myself these things and remind myself to look outside that commercial box so beautifully wrapped. I need to make a short list of real blessings, and stop there.
So, here it is.
- I am healthy enough to enjoy writing, talking with friends, listening to music, watching Christmas movies, hugging my dog, laughing at myself, and eating good food.
- I have lots of brilliant, witty, talented, compassionate, and loyal friends.
- My Family loves me.
- I am insatiably curious, and still interested in making each day better than the day before.
- I live in a place where I am free to speak my mind, make my own decisions, and feel safe in my own home.
I am going to refer to this list frequently so that I can remember what is important. I am going to allow only happy memories to flood me as Christmas Day approaches. And, as always, I am going to pray for the World to Give Peace a Chance.