Holiday seasons are tough on a lot of people. Those of us with “special” families have our share of Christmas horror stories …. too much drinking, too much drama, too much expectation. The media doesn’t help. We are bombarded from mid November on with the expectation that this is a time to be happy, to be connected to family which is supposed to be in and of itself a good thing, that we should buy, buy, buy, … Little wonder why the Help hotlines are overwhelmed at this time of year. Those of us with out of step families feel, well, out of step. We ask ourselves how is it that we don’t have the pie in the oven, the merriment around the tree, the peace and love we surely all crave.
When it comes to the media unfortunately their message will never change. They are geared toward making people believe that spending money will bring back that family feeling. It doesn’t. Know that.
What can change is how we talk to ourselves. I can mind my expectations by not creating a fantasy of what I want my family to be. This will be helpful because what I want it to be and what it is are a lifetime and a world apart. So what to do? How about I work on accepting what is? How might that be helpful? Well for starters, if I take the stance of accepting what is, it’s easy to go from there to being grateful. Gratitude I have come to learn is the great equalizer of shitty stuff. Have a parent with dementia? Being grateful for the small moments in between gives one the strength to make it through the harder moments. Have a relative with mental illness? Again, being grateful for the small moments means being able to cope with the bigger ones that make no sense. Being grateful for the small moments means being present to that. When you’re present, and grateful, the mechanism to blow things out of proportion whether good (fantasy family) or bad (every thing is ruined) is limited.
As this year comes to an end, and we, by definition of the holiday, get together with friends and family, be real .. both with yourself and with others. Mind your expectations and look for gratitude for the little things. Doing so has a way of making little moments grow just a little bigger…. Just enough to make things fine, just as they are.
Peace be with you.