Hello everyone, I submit a monthly article to Community Living Ontario,
and thought I'd share this one with you. As the Christmas season approaches,
emotions are heightened; for some it's the greatest time of year and for others
it's the hardest. Please reach out to those who are struggling. I promise, it will bring you even more joy to know that you Just Showed Up for someone in need!
Ah Christmas! A time of family, friends, loved ones, great meals, and lots of presents, right? Or is it not so happy holidays? Is it a time of loneliness, stress, and arguing? Maybe you even fight about what the season should be called?
It’s a time for all of it. For some, their favourite season, for others the most dreaded time of year. So, what can we do to change that?
I must admit that I have my own work to do, to not feel anxious about the upcoming season. I will not be lonely and will most likely receive a gift or two, even though I’m not one for lots of gift-giving. My anxiety comes from being
an empath, and watching the people around me suffering and others
who create their own excessive suffering.
Throughout the years, I have watched people joylessly shop, shove, and push through crowds and complain about how much money they have to spend on gifts.
I have heard stories of having to travel to several different places to appease ALL family members over the holidays with the obligatory visit. Others “slave
over a hot stove” for days upon days in preparation for the large crowd to feed, who may or may not bring food, and will they help with cleaning up?
Maybe, maybe not.
I have watched nurses and others who had to work on December 25th and
not have their loved ones with them that day, completely fall apart.
So, I have to work at rising above the angst at a time we should be celebrating
love, regardless of what Christmas does or does not mean to us. If it is not a religious celebration for you, it is still most likely a time with holidays,
children out of school, and an opportunity to reflect on what is good in life.
It can also be a time for reflection as the New Year approaches.
But how can we re-frame the negative? How can we create more happiness and
less stress? How? By knowing that we have a choice. It is our choice to make, whether someone else agrees or not. I choose to be happy.
Here is my two cents and unsolicited advice:
1. Call it whatever you’d like.
Christmas, Hanukkah, the Holidays, Feliz Navidad… whatever resonates
with you. Don’t fret about what your neighbours call it. To each their own.
2. If you want to buy gifts, buy gifts.
If you don’t, don’t. If you choose to, buy gifts within your budget.
Shop early, get things on sale (well, if it’s too late for that, try this next year!). Why do we have to be extravagant? Is that real meaning of this holiday?
Isn’t love and togetherness enough?
If you’re buying gifts, why not purchase certificates for outings together,
like tubing, bowling, movie night, eating at a restaurant, swimming and so on.
We are a society of consumers and over-spenders. Only you can change that.
My husband, Geordie, and I only buy a few gifts for our children, and we set a reasonable limit. The rest of the family, our presence is our present.
That’s it, and that’s good enough!
3. One person doing all of the cooking? I don’t think so.
Even if someone loves to cook, should they really miss out on fun festivities?
If they insist on doing all the cooking, they most certainly should not be doing
any of the cleaning. I have met many people, mostly women, who are martyrs; doing all the cooking and cleaning themselves, and complaining about it.
How does everyone else just let that happen?
I’m sorry. The 1950s are over. If we have a dinner at our house, it’s potluck. Everyone brings something and everyone helps to clean up. Even the children
help to clear the table and wipe the counters. It helps them to become thoughtful adults. “Many hands make light work” makes holidays more pleasant for everyone.
4. My last and most important point.
There are many, many people who have to work on December 25th or cannot
be with their loved ones. And others who are facing their first Christmas
after the death of someone they loved dearly.
For those working or not able to be with loved ones that day, celebrate
another day. Period. Create a grateful day wherever you are on December 25th.
As the song goes, “if you can’t be with ones you love, then love the ones you’re with.” Others who are working or not with their families wish they could be
with them too. Make your time together as awesome as possible.
You get to be the person who brings joy to the day.
If you are someone who is going through the holidays alone or you are
grieving—whatever your loss may be—take extra good care of yourself. Do what
you need to do for you. If you want to be alone, be alone. Acknowledge and
allow your feelings. If you want to be with people, do that. Don’t worry about
not being cheery or bringing others down. Let them love you and carry you
though. Request that they acknowledge and allow your feelings and not to try
to fix you. You can’t fix grief, it’s a natural part of healing. Just Show Up
for yourself, and let others Just Show Up for you. (I’m always here too!)
If you want to feel true happiness in your life and throughout the year,
each and every day, live by the wise word of our Great Uncle Ken:
Help people, help people, help people. Never stop helping people!
May you find love and gratitude this season and always,
no matter what else comes your way.
Community Living Ontario Editor's note:
Yvonne Heath is an inspirational speaker and makes periodic contributions to Update Friday. Her message often relates to grief and loss, and how we can overcome them in the different aspects of our lives. Click here to read her introductory article. Yvonne is also the author of Love Your Life to Death. Click here to order your copies today.
Yvonne Heath is Canada's Proactive Living Consultant. She is a Speaker, Television Host, Award Winning Author
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