A “Happy Thanksgiving”? … Maybe More Like a “Blue Christmas”!

Nov 11, 2014 9:00:00 AM Mirais Holden Gratitude

Happy_thanksgivingIt’s that time of year again … the Holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are a time for merriment, good cheer, and loving families and friends, right? … Actually, for some of us, maybe not so much. Our cultural tradition tells us that the Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, with chestnuts roasting on an open fire and all of that … but for many of us, the truth is that the Holidays can be pretty tough.

Some of us have lost someone close to our hearts, and Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t feel the same without them. Others of us feel we have no place to go on the Holidays, and we spend the day alone and lonely.

 For others, we spend our entire year trying to avoid certain members of our families (our creepy Uncle Ralph or the brother we can’t stand), and the Holidays mean we feel forced to spend several unpleasant family gatherings with those people, all squeezed into a couple of months! Some of us grew up in families where the Holidays were a time of disappointment, poverty, family strife, or abuse – and so we don’t identify with those warm Holiday memories featured in picture prints by Currier and Ives.

Others of us feel extremely stressed during the Holidays because we have taken on all of the responsibility (to host the gatherings, cook the food, trim the tree, buy the presents), and we don’t feel that we have time to relax and enjoy the celebration. And some of us have the opposite problem, where all of our controlling relatives swoop in to “help,” and there are just too many cooks in the kitchen! 

So, what to do? If any of this rings a bell to you, here are some tips to have a Happy Thanksgiving and turn your “Blue Christmas” into a “Joy to the World”:

1. Know That You’re Not Alone:

In our culture, we don’t often talk about the more unpleasant side of the Holidays, so it can be easy to feel that you are the only one who is down in the dumps. Trust me – you’re not! Lots of us struggle during the Holidays, so know that there is nothing wrong with you and that you’re not alone.

2. Spend the Holidays Where You Really Want To:

For those of us who feel we have no place to go on the Holidays: Perhaps there are places you would like to be invited? Could you make a request to spend the Holidays with those people? (Hint: Have you been living in an ineffective expectation that they should already know you’d like to be invited? Perhaps they love you but just aren’t aware you need support.) The Holidays are all about community, so it’s no wonder we get bummed when we spend them alone. Find yourself a tribe!

And for those of us who would prefer not to be with our family of origin another year in a row: Consider not doing it this year. Perhaps you could switch it up this Holiday season and celebrate with the folks you actually want to celebrate with, not the ones you feel you should celebrate with. Does it feel like a risky choice to make? Can you imagine how a change of scenery might alter your experience of joy during the Holidays? 

3. Own Your Choice:

For those of you who choose to be with your family of origin instead of finding a new spot to spend the Holidays: Own your choice. Uncle Ralph is who he is, and when you choose to spend the Holidays with him, that’s what you sign up for. Owning our own choice and living in acceptance of that choice creates a mood of peace, which is what we’re all looking for around the Holidays.

4. Ask For Support:

For those of us who take on all of the responsibility ourselves: What would it be like to ask for help and allow others to take some of the load? For those of us who are missing a lost loved one: How can you enroll those you love to help you honor the person you’re missing during the Holidays? And for those of us who grew up in families where the Holidays were unpleasant: How about asking for support from your friends and family to help you create new memories and traditions?

5. Count Your Blessings:

For all of us, wherever and however we spend the Holidays, it is important to remember that it truly is a season of gratitude. If you want to create a mood of peace and good will for yourself and those around you, count your blessings this Holiday season, and share your gratitude with others.

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