by Keri Forbess-McCorquodale, MS, LPC, LMFT, CEAP
Is anybody else dreading the holidays this year? Well, dreading isn’t the right word. Maybe “too tired to holiday”? Or “still trying to just make it through the day and don’t have the energy or mindset to be festive?” Anyway, you know what I mean.
My house is a still not back together from last year’s hurricanes, and certainly won’t be put back together in time for the holidays. Frankly, I don’t even notice the unfinished things in my house anymore. They have been there so long, they have become normal. Even more sad, I know lots of people who will be celebrating their second holiday season out of their homes, in their campers or wherever else they have managed to find to land.
Combine our housing situations with a battered town we are slowly trying to put back together, with a horrible pandemic that took so many lives and caused so much divisiveness, it’s no wonder many of us are feeling “Bah Humbug-ish!”
All that to say, I really don’t have anything left for Christmas presents and cheer. Can’t we cancel Christmas this year?
Actually, you can. I wouldn’t recommend canceling Christmas completely, but I do think this may be the year to shift our focus and try to decrease the craziness associated with Christmas.
With all the shortages and delayed delivery times, not to mention our sheer exhaustion, this is the perfect year to re-think the holidays. What if we focused on the feelings of Christmas, instead of the things of Christmas? What are the feelings of Christmas supposed to be? It might be easier to discuss the feelings most people have and how they are not in line with what I’m hoping for you.
Stress – Are you going in a million different directions, with your mind going
nonstop? Welcome to the club! Many of us are so overwhelmed, and instead of looking for ways to decrease the stress, we are determined to get it all done – even if it means we are completely exhausted Christmas Day!
Competition – Who’s got the best decorations, will I give the best presents, who is going to get stuck in the name-drawing with the most difficult cousin to buy for, and is a good gift-buyer going to get your name? I also see competition in the money arena – who spends the most, get the most presents, etc.
Perfection – Everything is supposed to look, feel and taste perfect. What if
someone brings food that doesn’t match the menu – and on an ugly tray??? What if you get a gift that clearly does not match any of your décor? This is why the return lines are so long the days after the holidays!
OK, now that we have established how we DON’T want to feel, let’s take a look at the feelings of the season I am hoping for you (and me)?
Thankfulness – I know so many people who have suffered far worse in the past
1 ½ years than I. I’m grateful to “only” have to deal with re-construction issues. Many don’t have a home to worry about. Many will be sitting around a table with fewer people because they are no longer with us. I was talking to a friend who has lost everything. She told me “I’m just glad we’re all alive.” I’m certainly not trying to minimize what you have been through; I am simply asking you to begin looking for little things in your life that you can be grateful for. Maybe that camper is way easier to clean than your house. Maybe the little victories with insurance companies has taken on a whole new meaning for you. Maybe you haven’t had as much time to be depressed because you have been so busy with reparations. Start making an “I’m Thankful For” list – maybe everyone could name something at the Christmas dinner table.
Peace –Slow down – take a deep breath – you are alive and thriving. Part of the
spirit of the season is the chance to “be still and know.” We have a perfect opportunity this year to slow down the pace. Begin prioritizing what you do and don’t want to do: which parties you enjoy, which traditions are important to you, which people you actually like. What are some quieter, more peaceful things you want to be sure to do this year? Take the opportunity to take a night off from the “shoulds” of the season.
Tradition – Do you really want your kids to remember the holiday season as the
time of year they are constantly with sitters? Again, this may be the perfect year to do those things you always wanted to do – make cookies with the kids and use those as gifts, go look at Christmas lights (I am choosing to believe we will have plenty in our area), and telling your children the true meaning of the season.
This holiday season is, once again, going to be a true test for many of us. Can we find the courage to celebrate the season in the way most appropriate for us at this time? Can we be both realistic and optimistic? Can we get to January and be content with the way we navigated the holidays? As long as we make a plan, we most assuredly can.