|As we begin to enjoy the welcoming fall weather, we are quickly reminded that the holidays are fast upon us. For some of us it is an exciting times. For others, we do all we can to just get through it: For some, the sights, signs, and smells of the holidays bring joy and a warm feeling. But, while others are joyously diving into the season, some of us are dipping into sadness, guilt, and a sense of loss.Many of us are torn between what we want to do for the holiday, and what we feel we have to do. We may feel guilty because we don’t want to be with our families. We may feel a sense of loss because we don’t have the kind of family we may envy others have. Many of us, year after year walk into the same dining room on the same holiday, expecting this year to be different. Then we leave, year after year, feeling let down, disappointed, and confused by it all. Many of us have old, painful memories triggered by the holidays.
For some, it is a reminder of a family they once had. Reflecting on the passing of loved ones, possibly, divorced family members, or even a loved one who has a severe alcohol or drug abuse problem that historically has tended to ruin the holidays for everyone.
We cannot predict how things can go. But we can prepare for a holiday that we will not allow the losses and often painful memories to totally cloud out what family and friend we currently have in our lives. You see, we don’t have to forfeit happiness for the painful memories or loss that occurred this past year. We can grieve but also celebrate. It is a lost art. This is both doable and even helpful in moving past our painful memories.
We may not know what our joyous holiday could look and feel like.
One of the greatest gifts of recovery is learning that we are not alone. There are probably as many of us in conflict during the holidays as there are those who feel at peace. We’re learning, through trial and error, how to take care of ourselves a little better each holiday season.
Our first task during the holidays is to accept ourselves, our situation, and our feeling about our situation. We accept our guilt, anger, and sense of loss. It’s all okay.
There is no right or perfect way to handle the holidays. Our strength can be found in doing the best we can one year at a time. Here are a few ideas that will help make it truly a Happy Holiday Season in keeping with the tradition of Fall Festival, Thanksgiving and Christmas…
In upsetting situations or relationships, you could find refuge—a kind of center—in the answers to these questions: What’s really true? What matters most? What’s out of my hands? What are the most important things to do, and to be?
Even when we are anxious, sad, irritated, feeling inadequate, or depressed, there is a deeper place that is undisturbed within us. Awareness keeps working, the peaceful space in which experiences come and go. Deep down there is wisdom, a “still, small voice” at the heart of you.
Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.
Isaiah wrote, I will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.
Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)