~Ahhh, the family gathered all together laughing, hugging enjoying each other’s love.
~The Christmas Tree decorated with more gifts than you can count underneath.
~The dinner table and every available inch of counter space chock full of food from turkey to ham to casseroles made with family recipes plus deserts and pies.
This is how so many see the Holidays. However, many find it to be the exact opposite, not because they’re a Scrooge but because for one reason or another, this is where life has led them this year.
I’ve put together a few of the most common Seasonal challenges. There are more but one step at a time…
Money is usually short and the pressure to spend it is never more…..
(This isn’t news to anyone but especially now, money is a very scarce commodity for some. So many will nod their head and say “Boy you don’t have to tell me!” Trouble is, if you have money in your checking account or even have a savings account, you might need to be reminded. There are plenty of people that we’d never imagine that have no money in the bank account. By “no money in their account,” I mean none at all. Moreover, at the end of the week or month they make the decision between food or medications. So, even a $5 breakfast or going in on a gift can make a major impact on their life.
Don’t assume! Pay attention and actively look for signs. If you see some then adjust your plans to avoid undue stress and possibly embarrassment for them.)
We’re told that Holiday gatherings are things we should look forward to attending…..
(Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. “Loving” people can sometimes turn into arguing, yelling factions in the same house. Sometimes loved ones that were mainstays are gone thru divorce, Military service or death. The same traditions that were always celebrated, are so much different and many times worse.
Remember that we can’t do anything about others, if they want to fight and make an ass out of themselves, that’s up to them. We can only control how we react. Find something and/or someone who puts a smile on your face. Stay close with them. When others are fighting or crying remember that it’s not a crime for you to smile or laugh…even if it’s only on the inside.
If you’re missing a loved one or pet and need to stay home, then stay home! Just make sure you understand the difference between need and want. Maybe you’d like to give it a shot, so give yourself an “out” by saying you might need to leave early. Then, play it by ear. If it turns out you need to leave because it’s too much you have your opening. If you want to stay then this gives you the option.
When it comes to carrying on traditions without those who began them, feelings can really overtake you. Know that it’s ok to feel overcome. Again, if you need to leave, leave. My suggestion is to start at new tradition that might be loosely based on one of the old ones. Add to some of the great memories with a new memory or hope that means something to you.)
If you’re feeling anxious or nervous you can’t leave. Think how bad that will make Great Aunt LaVerne feel…..
(Remember that how Aunt LaVerne feels is up to you and you need to take care of you first. If you aren’t authentic with yourself and how you feel, you can’t expect to feel better soon. Plus, authenticity shows respect for yourself and for those you’re around.)
Christmas or New Year’s is no time to be alone…..
(Nope! Sometimes it is. There is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. Some of the best times in my life have come when I was alone. When it comes to being lonely, as my Dad used to say, “that’s why the man invented the telephone!” Reach out if you want to and just say hi or pick up some cookies and drop them by the hospital or police station or a neighborhood fire station. It’s amazing how doing something nice for someone else lifts us like nothing else.)
“I have to get them something!”…
(No you don’t! Especially at a time when others are getting them stuff…NO YOU DO NOT! Do something for them in January or February or March…have I mentioned my birthday is in March?)
People are nicer during the Holidays…
(While some people are much nicer and filled with the Holiday Spirit, sadly many others are not. Most aren’t nasty because they’re bad people but most likely because of some or all of the things we’re talking about here today. So, if someone throws a tantrum or “bites your head off” for no reason, keep these thoughts in mind…breathe…smile…bite your lip and go do something nice for somebody.)
I don’t have time…
(YES YOU DO! I don’t have time is one of the biggest rationalizations we’ve invented. We are in complete control of your time. We might like to devote more or less time towards some things or people but then it’s up to us to adjust.)
During the Holidays,
“No” is a dirty word
“Yes” is a dirty word…
(Neither are dirty words but depending how and when they’re used, we sure can complicate our lives. Don’t be afraid to use either one or both depending on the situation. Take a breath, Assess the situation and only then decide which to use. Remember……BREATHE…..)
STRESS (the magic word of the Season) comes as a result of others people and situations…
(Nope! Stress comes straight from one place, inside of us. I remember hearing Dr. Wayne Dyer say stress wasn’t something you could go to the store and buy, it didn’t come from the outside. That always stuck with me. Other people or situations can be a pain but it’s up to us to create stress within. Keeping that in mind, it’s also up to us to realize that and defeat it before it even begins. Back to Breathing and realizing that we can only control what we can control. No amount of worry about something out of our control will ever change it for the better! Baby steps, one after another moving forward allows us to move down our path.)
(This time of the year we all try and put on a “brave face” right up until…..we can’t anymore.
If you are considering suicide then please call these professionals right now. If you think no one cares, PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS…I CARE!!!
IAVA.org is a fantastic organization that helps veterans and they have a suicide team at the ready as well.
If you need them or know someone who does, please reach out to them. I’ll say it again, I care and I know others do too.
Just because you’re not thinking of ending your life doesn’t mean that someone very close to you isn’t thinking of it right now. Look for the clues. Ask yourself if there is even a chance that someone you know might be at risk. Only a 15% chance? Are you willing to bet someone’s life on that 15%? I hope the answer is no. How many times have you heard people say “I had no idea?” So reach out to those at risk and those who aren’t. Those alone, those who are elderly or lost someone recently. Those who have limited money or recently had surgeries or disabilities, etc…)
Everyday find something, even just one thing to be happy about or smile about. It might be a gift you got or gave or overhearing the laugh of a child that you might not even know. There are a million potential gifts that life offers up to us each day. Most days we allow most of them to go by unseen.
Don’t! Grabbing even one of them is a gift to your own soul. Hold onto it, be thankful and grateful for it and share it if you’re ready to.