The Holiday season brings with it excitement, anticipation, happiness and all the good feelings one can muster. What it also brings, that is too often left unaddressed, is sadness and loneliness. Whether it is the loss of a loved one that will be missing from around the table, the financial strain that you won’t be able to provide your family with the “perfect” holiday, or even the change of your family status, Holidays are not always merry and bright.
Personally, I fall into the first category. I have lost loved ones throughout my life, and I still miss them. Most days are fine, some days memories come in and I can’t help but laugh. During the holidays, I struggle with the sadness of missing them, wanting them to be around to enjoy it all with me. It is a hard balance of remaining present to keep the happiness going and my nieces and nephews enjoying the magic that the holidays can bring, and not being sad, or even angry, because they are not here to participate. I feel selfish for even saying that, but there is part of the problem. We should be able to talk about being sad or angry during this time of year. None of us are Santa, with his forever rosy cheeks and jolly disposition. I understand “life must go on”, but that shouldn’t stop us from being able to acknowledge what we miss, what is making us sad or hurt.
I recently watched a Christmas movie, yes the Hallmark cheesy kind where you know the ending will be a happy one. This movie was different. It addressed losing loved ones. This little girl reminded her Foster Mother that if we push down the memories and act like they don’t exist we just miss them even more. This hit me HARD. I feel guilty for bringing up my dad to ones that loved him too. But why? Why is it so hard to talk about loved ones after they have died? Why can’t we talk about the good and the bad times, share stories to keep the memories going? I’m not sure, because I can’t even answer why I don’t talk about my dad or grandmothers or grandfather more.
These thoughts have been swirling around in my head since last night. I talked to a friend that falls into the third category, her family status has changed. She is sad and spending her first Christmas “alone.” It is hard for her because she is not doing the traditions she has done for the past twenty plus years. She is sad, but doesn’t want to “impose” on anyone or feel like the odd duckling at some other family’s gathering. I understand, I mean who wants to be the “odd man out” during a holiday gathering? While this would not be the case with most of her friends, it is still how she feels and she should validate those feelings. The point I’m trying to make is that Holidays are not even close to Hallmark movies.
It is ok to be like the main character in Elf and spread all the cheer you want, but know not everyone likes to smile all the time. It is ok to scale back on participating in holiday events, and boycott it all even! It is ok to not be ok all the time, especially during the Holidays.
Whatever your Holidays look like, I hope that it comes with a little bit of inner peace. It is easy to say because I’m not a parent, but most people do not remember WHAT you gave them, but HOW you made them feel. So if you happen to fall into the second category, give the gift of time. Spend time with those you care about, after all it will be the one thing they talk about when you are not around.
I can’t tell you a gift my Maw gave me specifically, but I can tell you about her deep frying turkey breast and always doing extra because she would “sneak” a couple of pieces to us all. I remember the lights on my Nanny’s front porch and how warm and cozy her house was every Christmas Eve. I remember my grandfather sitting in his recliner pretending not to notice, but truly keeping a close eye on all the activities during Christmas lunch. I remember my dad and our “arguments” over who would get the middle orange danish roll after we opened gifts. I remember them and how they made me feel.
So embrace all the emotions that come with the Holiday season! From my heart to yours, Happy Holidays!