There is a beginning, middle and an end to every day. And that includes Christmas.
Christmas day is one of those days of the year when many of us don’t care what we do as long as we are not alone. The day has that much power. Whether we are religious or secular “Joy to the World” is the theme of the season. And we often feel we have failed others or ourselves if we don’t feel the joy.
That said the consumer market does nothing to help keep our expectations in check.
Christmas commercials of happy actors with beautiful faces and bodies, beautiful white teeth and beautiful smiles run through dry white snow, shop, gaze into each others’ eyes – or sit around a white clothed table overflowing with food… and they are happy!
But let’s be realistic. These people are acting to sell you something!
Reality: the not uncommon grin-and-bear-it holiday
Yes, some families share a pleasant holiday year after year after year. And they are blessed.
Then there are those who pile together year after year after year for a “grin-and-bear” Christmas. By this I mean they gather and pretend there is no other place they would rather be—while counting the hours until they can hug and say goodbye.
A client of mine recently emailed me to say that “the person who dreamed up ‘this is the most wonderful time of the year’ should be punched!”
Bottom line I beg you to consider that I am being honest rather than cynical. Things can go right and things can go wrong, and in certain families holidays are consistently tedious.
Another side of the coin
There is a term “the negative path to happiness” which means people with lower expectations are actually happier – during the holidays and the entire year. When they expect little they are pleasantly surprised when something better shows up. Not a bad idea, is it?
It is a belief (vs. a truth) that something is wrong with you if you are alone for Christmas
We all need and thrive on connection—but not all connection—and not at any cost. It is important to acknowledge that you also thrive on 1) having the capacity to tolerate disappointment and 2) saying no to what makes you miserable.
If you are single, divorced or widowed and know you are going to be alone for Christmas, consider the following to gain some perspective.
It is July and you have been around people nonstop for weeks. You know you have an unscheduled long weekend coming up with nothing to do. You can’t wait! “Ah, yes,” you think. “Solitude!”
Question: At any time during that long weekend do you feel ashamed you are not with others?
What would you plan during your long weekend?
At the very least you would sleep when sleepy, eat a favorite food when hungry, watch a good movie, read, walk—and/or submerge yourself in an activity you had postponed.
If you approach the holiday with your July attitude, you’ll likely enjoy the day. And you will also realize that life is more interesting when you stop believing it must be a certain way for you to be happy.
If you are experiencing fresh grief this year—whatever you do, be kind to yourself
If a loved one has died recently create a simple ritual to honor your loved one. Light a candle. Toast to their picture. Talk to them, and assure them you are going to be all right. Take some time to look through photo albums. Have a good cry. And then have another.
If your only reason for being alone is to not depress others, forget it! That is not a good reason. Allow people to be there for you this year. If you don’t have family nearby and know of someone else who is grieving or alone, call them. They might enjoy getting together.
If you are certain that you would rather be alone—stick to your guns. Remember there is a beginning, middle and end to every day.
Our previous years’ posts for coping with the holidays are below. There are some good ideas in these posts so take the time to read them.
And remember – buy yourself a Christmas present. Ok? Ok.
See you in January 2016.