Holiday Angst Ends with You

Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas and Happy Days!

There is so much pressure at this time to be materialistic, music is forced into your heads two months prior, Black Friday, holiday items out before Thanksgiving has even surfaced.  The stress of turkey and in-laws have just ended and now you are having to be overwhelmed by society telling you that you are not doing enough for the holiday you celebrate. Holidays are meant to be a time of love, tradition, faith, and plenty of rituals, yet it is also a time when people begin to fall apart.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Faith – Whatever you believe in there is no religion that asserts one must participate in consumerism. This is a time to remember what you are celebrating this holiday for. It is when churches are filled with the twice a year members. So, take this opportunity to delve into your faith and ask questions. Listen to your spiritual leader as if you are hearing them for the first time.

2. History – How did you celebrate the holidays growing up? Remember this. Keep the traditions alive and pass down stories about the ones who have passed. Set their photos out so that children can see their namesakes, their grandparents, uncles or aunts. Keep them as part of the family. Sometimes it can be hard if they have recently left. The photo and the stories of who they were helps to get through this time. If you keep quiet you are making them disappear even more. Let you family rejoice in the love you had for this person.

3. Love – Children do not need anything more then love. Good healthy love, hugs and kisses.  Right now they are being formed into future adults. These memories that you are making will be something they will treasure in years to come. Just as you remember the magical times of your childhood. We never got 100 presents for the holiday. The cliche “It is the thought that counts,” rings true. Children who are spoiled will grow up to expect that the world owes them something. It does not. No child has come into my office to complain that they did not get enough presents for Christmas or some other holiday. No adult has mentioned this was an issue either. What they do mention is what was lacking during the holiday. The parent who was not there, the parent who was drinking or stoned, or the elder parents who did these things. Love is all a child really needs for the holidays. Good healthy appropriate love and learning about their history. Learning about why they are celebrating the holiday in the first place.

4. Whatever you are doing, it is enough – It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what you have made to eat. The thoughts you put into what you are doing and how kind your heart is, are all that matters.

5. Charity – This is a wonderful time to share. It is important that children of priviledge understand that the rest of the world is not like them. It also helps to take kids out of their comfort zones and let them meet others. Senior homes often have residents who have no one. People in shelters are having to deal with the awkwardness of being with strangers. Food pantries often need more servers. Charity work teaches children empathy. This helps them to realize that nothing is forever. That we must all think about the choices we make in life.

6. Bad memories – Holidays can also be a time when people remember what they lack in life emotionally. They remember why they lack it and who took it away from them as a child. It is when survivors feel compelled to tell their story for the first time and try and make someone admit what they did. It is better left in private between you and that individual. While we may want to get our anger out, because we have finally let it surface, it won’t get the results you are looking for. Rarely does a perpetrator apologize. Rarely will they admit to wrong doing – especially in front of others. Get them alone or wait one more day. *I know how much you want everyone to know but believe me they already do – on some level. They haven’t said anything up until now and this is not right but you can’t change them.

Keep in mind that consumerism is part of why holidays have become as ugly as they have. When we turn Wal-Marts into rock concerts we have lost our way in life. After listening to Christmas music on the radio for two months straight, anyone would feel ready to scream. Holy days have been trashed and turned upside down. There is no spiritual meaning in dollars unless they are going into a non-profit or religious institution and even then, only if it is coming from the heart.

There is also the tendancy to realize what you are missing in life. To become depressed because you are alone, you have no job or are now disabled and can’t do as you once did. Take the time to look within and learn from your situation. Nothing is forever. Even what you lack is only that which takes place in your mind. You have the power to change your thought processes. You control whether you will be negative or positive. No one forces your emotions or thoughts. Life is what you make it.

Do your best to be different this year. Think on these words: Integrity – Love – Faith – Forgiveness – Family.

I wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season!

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