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Thursday, November 22, 2018

When Holidays Aren't Happy

If your life is perfect this year and you have no qualms, you may want to stop reading this right now. I'm not writing this for anyone who is on top of their game. If you are surrounded by loved ones, and no one has died or left you, if you have more than enough food and you are joyfully plotting your black Friday shopping without a worry of how you'll pay for it all, move on to the next post- this one is not for you. However if you are grieving right now, if you feel like you're a mess and you're about to fake smile your way through the holidays, stay. Read on. I have something for YOU.

I've been there. I've held my breath while driving past houses filled with family and craved whatever drama good or bad they had going on just so I wouldn't be alone. I've ducked out of parties feeling overwhelmed by the very crowds people told me to "get out" in. I've shamefully showed up on Christmas morning with a fake smile and a bleeding heart, hoping and praying that my children wouldn't see anything but the facade so that they wouldn't feel neglected. Yes, I've heard the music and cried, ate the food and resented it, and I've been in the thickest part of mourning during a season that flashes bright lights, jolly elves, cheerful feasts and felt the indignity of it all. For so many, the holidays can bring up more stress, memories of suffering and reveal past and current grievances. If that's you, my heart is with you. I get it.

As I sit here writing this on Thanksgiving morning, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, I am reminded of something that has helped me through this season during hard times. Simplify. I remember one Thanksgiving my kids were both at other families and I was alone. I made a "Thanksgiving Day Self Care To Do List" filled with ideas from nature walks and painting to giving myself a rose petal salt bath and pedicure. I took one small step of the list at a time and by the end of the day I felt like a million bucks! It actually ended up being the best day I had experienced in a long time. Way better than laying around watching the Hallmark channel feeling sorry for myself.

Because no matter what you are going through, some things will still have the ability to pull the little child from your broken heart and bring a sense of hope again. Even through my own traumas, I've realized that some things never change; I cry every year when Santa shows up at the end of the parade(literally the only man to remain consistent in my life. Without fail I tearfully whisper, "he came.") Regardless of what I've gone through, I find it comforting to allow certain things to move me. I still have to sing along to certain Christmas songs, peppermint hot chocolate will always bring me back into my body, book stores bring comfort, and I will always dreamily lose myself in the magic of a sparkly city street. I've learned that by allowing the simple little things about the season to touch my heart, it can bring my mind out of big negativity.

So if you are grieving, angry, resentful, sad, or just not having a happy holiday season, one thing is certain, you are not alone. More people experience hardship during the holidays than you can imagine. What you are going through right now will help you to recognize others who are also suffering. Let's keep that in mind as we are demanding service from the barista who is battling depression or a store manager who his having to work on a holiday away from his children. With everything that goes on with people, my prayer every year is that compassion reigns the holidays. My heart is holding yours with compassion now and always, my friend. I want you to know that someone is praying for you, lighting a candle for you, and that you are surrounded by angels. As you move through your pain, I have full faith that you too will one day see that no matter how hard things get, there is always something even just one simple little thing you can hold on to and be grateful for. Hold on to what you can. Plant those things like seeds so that they grow. Eventually, the frosty pain gives way to warmer times and those little things will become treasures among the many new and wonderful things that are waiting for you. The good thing about seasons is that they eventually pass. Your life WILL move forward.

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