I’m just going to come out and say it…
Sometimes, in some ways, the holidays are hard.
Sure it’s a time for family, faith, community and giving. They can be warm and cozy, for sure.
It’s also a time of trying to keep everyone happy, consumerism, freaking cold weather and chaos.
There are so many holidays this time of year it can be a mine field knowing what to say to strangers.
Oh, and then there’s the business impact. If you’re in retail it’s crazy busy, if you’re not it’s annoyingly slow. Either way there’s workplace stress and drama.
And then there’s the new year. Culturally we equate a new year with new beginnings, goal setting and resolutions. Making it a time to reflect on the past year and while that can lead to celebration and acknowledgement of accomplishments, it can just as easily lead to o overwhelm, frustration and judgement.
I know. I sound like a Grinch. I’m okay with that.
No one really talks about the dark side of the holidays.
This is the time of year that depression can really sneak up on me, triggered by the emotional roller coaster that seems to come along with the holidays. It begins with avoidance of shopping malls, even the idea of going out for toothpaste sounds daunting, waiting in line with holiday shoppers, which brings on hermit mode. Then into the high energy of a party or family gathering. Followed by going home alone to wind down. Only to do it all over again the next day, a total roller coaster of emotions.
This is also the time of year that I miss people the most. Whether it’s because they’ve moved away, or passed on, their absence is more pronounced this time of year. But oh man, we can’t show that sadness. Nope. The pressure to be happy and joyful this time of year is intense. Which then makes it feel even WORSE to have “bad” thoughts or feelings because it seems like we’re SUPPOSED to be all happy. Which then triggers that hermit mode again. Hoy-vey.
There is a surprisingly large number of people who hide out the entire month of December. If you’re out in public and grumpy this time of year you can quickly be shamed, people calling you a Grinch, pressuring you to ‘smile’, and asking ‘where’s your holiday cheer?’.
I’m not always happy this time of year, are you?
I get stressed! Sometimes I even feel lonely.
Perhaps you’re someone who loves Christmas or loves Chanukah, etc. and this is your favorite time of year. I suspect that even you have days where you feel sad or stressed and perhaps even guilt.
I’m not saying all of this out of some twisted desire to extract your Grinch or to put you in a bad mood. No way! That’s not my style at all. My point is this:
Lets make a little bit of space for the Grinch in us all.
Let’s make it okay to be sad, mad, annoyed, grumpy or just blah. You don’t have to smile all the time.
How does it feel to read that? Does it give you even a bit of relief?
If so, consider what a gift it is when you give others the space to have their Grinch moments too. To remember that while that Christmas music may be conjuring happy memories for you, it’s triggering painful memories for someone else.
Make space for all of the emotions during a season full of pressure to be joyful.