The Holidays Are Coming, The Holidays Are Coming!

[Please note: The title of this should be shouted like the ride of Paul Revere, not like an excited kid/person at Christmas…]

With the holidays (Christmas for me) fast approaching, it’s been a little different this year.  Yes, I’m loving the decorations, the cold weather, the music everywhere; but I’m not quite seeing the cheer or holiday spirit around me.  Or, at least, I’m not feeling it.  I finally truly understand why I’ve often heard others say that the holidays are a hard time for a lot of people.  I see stress, worry, sadness, frustration, and confusion.  And I realize my post may sound a little down right now, and some of this may also be more like first world problems compared to what’s going on with others, especially on the other side of the world, but bear with me; I promise I’ll end on a positive note.

Not to get too specific, in order to protect others’ privacy, but it just seems like one big negative thing after another has happened this past month in several of the lives of my closest friends and family…whether it has to do with money, jobs, relationships, sickness, death, or other unexpected life-changing occurrences.  I myself have been keeping so busy, and have a few changes happening in my own life (though not negative necessarily), that I haven’t had a chance to spend a lot of time with the aforementioned individuals or even do any usual, routine holiday shopping.  And every time I do go to another holiday party or participate in something festive, I feel bad, remembering others I care about are going through so much.  And I find myself asking: “Why now?  Why at Christmas, the ‘most wonderful time of the year’?”

I think about Christmas movies…most have some kind of conflict: being alone (While You Were Sleeping; Home Alone), money problems (It’s a Wonderful Life), getting picked on (A Christmas Story), being poor (A Christmas Carol), people doing bad things (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), a break up (The Holiday), etc…  However, in a movie everything is resolved in about an hour (even if it was supposed to represent a longer span of time, though it seems like in the Hallmark/ABC Family/Lifetime movie world, it’s usually only a matter of weeks—and always around the holidays—when their life is changed for the better), the mishaps are often comical somehow, and the characters seem to be able to move on rather quickly.

But life is not a movie.  Sometimes I want to just stop watching romcoms altogether, and chant this over and over to myself as I rock back and forth in a corner (too much?).  A main difference between movies and realities is that you have more than one conflict at a time (without necessarily feeling unrealistic or like you’ve hit rock bottom) … and sometimes it’s not even just your own tragedies that affect you.  The more I get close to others, the more I feel for them, empathizing, and their woes and unfortunate situations feel almost like mine as well.  (Whereas, in the movies too many different conflicts with each and every character would probably make the movie too long, confusing, and depressing.)

Yet, instead of being burdened and weighed down by everything, I’m trying on a new perspective right now.  Maybe it’s a good thing these things are happening now.  Wait, don’t stop reading!  No, it’s not a good thing that bad things are happening.  But if they had to happen, and they happened before the year ends, we have more time to heal or work toward a solution (depending on the situation) before the new year starts.  Sure, the holidays are supposed to be joyous occasions and it’s not ideal, but at least we can move forward into the new year with a fresh start.  Of course, everything isn’t going to sort itself out just in time with a nice little bow on it like a Christmas present, but at least we can start off the New Year with an action plan, goals, and ideas for how to get through this.  (Or we can just let ourselves wallow for a while.)  Then, just maybe, things will get better and we’ll have a lot of “rainbows” in 2016 after the worst of the storms have passed.  (Sidenote: I know some situations take longer to heal than others, for example, the difference between a job loss or money crisis, and death.  You’re never going to stop missing someone who’s passed away.  I’m not trying to diminish anything or generalize and put any timeline on things.)

Anyway, what I mean to say is that this is my wish to everyone, including myself: That we have hope.  If you can’t have joy, or you aren’t feeling the love for the holidays, at least try to find some kind of hope that these negative feelings can’t last forever…that someday, somehow, things will be better…even if you have to be the one that makes it better with your actions and/or mindset.  If Christmas can’t be your holiday because you’re not ready or are too sad for it (or maybe you don’t even normally celebrate it to begin with), then make New Years your holiday this year.  No, not necessarily the whole “New Years Resolutions” thing (unless that helps you), but just think of the new year as a fresh start, a clean whiteboard.  And for my friends and family: I am here for you, even when I’m posting happy things.  It doesn’t mean I’m just living my life and ignoring or avoiding you…. I’m just doing my best to not let myself go into a depression for everyone, since that doesn’t help anyone, really, and I’m over here having faith for us that there are better days ahead in 2016.

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