~ Michael J. Fox
I have to admit I don’t have a very good relationship with this time of year. I previously wrote a post about dealing with holiday stress, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how the holidays can be a set up for disappointment if we set unrealistic expectations. I don’t mean to be a Scrooge about the whole thing, but I don’t exactly have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head right now, either. What can I say?
I’m trying to figure out how to find some kind of balance around celebrating the season without buying into the hype, and allowing myself my own experience without judging it against some glamorized notion of how it’s supposed to feel.
Lately my thoughts have been turning to family. To many people the holidays are all tied up in family and traditions and making memories, and that can be pretty emotionally volatile, especially when we don’t find ourselves in the ideal family situation (whatever that may be). We won’t all be gathering around the spinet to sing Christmas carols with all our loved ones, and that’s really okay. But if we set ourselves up to think that that’s what a happy holiday looks like – or if we build up any of a vast number of idealized notions – a lot of us will end up feeling like we’re on the outside looking in.
I was fortunate to be able to spend Thanksgiving among loved ones. I don’t have an extended family that I feel close to, but I have a small nucleus of family members that I dearly love and that I truly enjoy being around. I was able to share a beautiful meal together with most of them at Thanksgiving, and hopefully will have the privilege of spending more time with my family around Christmas time.
That’s more than enough for me. But I still feel the pull of needing to create some kind of aura of wonderment about the holiday. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as I keep it in perspective. I haven’t decided on whether I will set up a tree to decorate this year. If I do get one, it will be because I decide that it will give me pleasure and that it might please others if I have guests over. It won’t be because I feel obligated to have one. Decorating a tree won’t make me happy. Choosing to enjoy the beauty of a tree in my home might. And
sitting around a beautifully decorated tree feeling sorry for myself because it isn’t somehow “magical” will definitely not fit the bill.
I’m trying to navigate the holidays conscientiously this year and not let the “holiday blues” get the best of me. The season is barely upon us, and it’s already trickier than I imagined. For me the litmus test on any holiday activity is going to be whether it will be truly meaningful and/or pleasurable to me or others. Putting up a Christmas tree? Maybe. Sending out Christmas cards? Probably not. Spending time with my family nucleus? Absolutely.
And eggnog? Most definitely!