Our miniature dashboard tree is decorated with red bows and multi-colored glitter ornaments with a small nativity nearby. I’ve made the kids’ favorite white chocolate pretzel mix, the puppy chow (not for puppies–Chex with chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar), and peppermint bark. The cookie dough ingredients are ready to be baked before the kids arrive in the next few days. The ham is in the fridge and I’m as prepared as possible for the meal preparation. I’m waiting on two more packages, but the rest of the presents are wrapped and ready to go. All three daughters will be together this Christmas–a rare occurrence–so it should be a perfect holiday. Reservations are made for our Christmas Eve Eve tradition at our favorite Italian restaurant, and we have plans to visit the drive-through Christmas light display (slide show below). I’ve made a valiant effort to make things festive and I’m determined to get through the holidays as lighthearted as possible for my family.
There’s only one hitch, it’s a going-through-the-motions thing and not a heart-felt love for the holiday season. I’ve perfected the fake-it-’til-you-make it Christmas cheer while trying to hide underlying sadness. I remember Christmas mornings as a small child and how wonderful it was to get my favorite toy from Santa. My grandparents always hosted Christmas Eve. I sat close to my beloved grandfather opening gifts while munching on Christmas cookies. Those memories are near and dear and probably the last I remember with a full heart of joy. Our family had a string of tragedies, starting with the sudden loss of my grandfather and several young family members in the years to follow. With each traumatic loss came a profound sadness. It was hard to get in the spirit of the holiday. The gifts rang hollow and family gatherings gradually dwindled.
It’s not a matter of dwelling too much in the past or being overly cognizant of the losses, the heart comes to a place where it accepts and moves on. The constant stimuli of love, peace, joy, family and friends, gatherings, parties, etc., can exacerbate or enhance the melancholy in the hearts of people susceptible to the holiday blues. I’m extremely blessed to have a family who understands my emotional moods around the holidays and accept my snappish bursts of temper and immediate apologies with understanding. They go with the flow if I’m crying one minute and laughing the next. I have people who love me and know the reasons behind my holiday moodiness. Many people do not have a solid support system with the feeling of family or community. The season of peace and joy can be the loneliest time of year.
I’ve learned to shift my focus from Christmases past to Christmas present. I am going to enjoy the time with my family and marinate in their exuberance for the season. It’s their love that lifts my spirits and makes the emotions of the season easier to navigate.
Please, reach out to someone who may be lonely or could be struggling with the holiday sensory overload. Don’t try to force the joy of the season on them, just accept them where they are. Let them know they are loved and understood. Even though high spirits may not be returned, people will always remember kindness.
It’s my wish every single person reading this has the amazing blessings of love of family, acceptance of who we are, and hope in the wonderful adventures the new year will bring.
Random Bits of Trial and Error wishes you a blessed and merry Christmas and a happy new year filled with experiences outside of the comfort zone.
Love from my heart,