I don’t know about you but I’m a bit tired of hearing the word “unprecedented” this year. It’s been the most difficult year in generations except for those of us old enough to vaguely remember the sixties. It may help you to remember that life comes and goes in seasons. Some years are wonderful, and everything seems to be going your way. Other years just plain suck. Some years Christmas is wonderful, and other years Christmas is hard.
Social media and society can pressure us to feel like we should be smiley, merry and bright during this most magical time of year. We might feel that we’re supposed to be filled with joy throughout December no matter what’s going on around us. We hide our pain and sorrow so that nobody knows. After all, we don’t want to ruin the holidays for our loved ones.
It’s okay to feel sad around the holidays. There’s nothing wrong with you. If you’re struggling with sickness, bills, or the loss of a loved one it’s normal and healthy to feel sad. There’s a feeling of being on the outside looking in that is tough to fill. And when you do find yourself smiling, you might feel just a bit guilty.
With all of the lockdowns going on, maybe your business is struggling or you lost your job, and you won’t be able to give your kids the gifts they’ve been dreaming about. Maybe your relationship suddenly fell apart and you’re still trying to figure what happened. There’s so many things that can take the joy out of Christmas. Just remember, that it’s okay to feel your feelings.
TV shows and movies often send a message that our troubles should magically disappear on Christmas. But we find ourselves still grieving, broke and even feeling lost. Life was never meant to be perfect. On the contrary, it can be messy, complicated, and sad.
Here’s some of my best mom advice for when you’re having a tough time over the holidays.
- Don’t allow yourself to be pressured to be in a good mood.
- Don’t expect your sadness and grief to suddenly go away.
- Get through the holidays as best you can, one day at a time.
- Do your best for the little ones in your life, and then go and have a good cry if you need to. Fell what you need to to get through this time.
- Practical radical soul care. And remember, things will begin to look up and happier days are ahead. Think back on the good times in your life and know that things will get better for you again.
Getting Through the Holidays With Simplicity
Have you ever considered simplifying Christmas? Imagine a holiday season without the stress, without the mess, without spending a small fortune on decorations, events, and gifts. Think about celebrating a much simpler Christmas this year. By getting back to basics and focusing on the more spiritual side of this holiday, you’ll probably find more joy this season. And you’ll also find that when you focus on simplicity, you’ll have more time to savor everything this special time of the year has to offer.
Look back on Christmases past. It’s very possible that the memories that you remember the most were the ones where your family didn’t have a lot of money for decorations, expensive gifts and non-stop parties. If your family is anything like mine, the ones we remember are the years when we had little. I remember making snowflakes out of construction paper (and sometimes watching the real ones) and baking Christmas cookies. The gifts weren’t expensive, but were often more meaningful and homemade. Those are the Christmases that will become treasured memories.
Since chronic illness entered my life ten years ago, I try to keep Christmas simple. I have a couple of trees up and the mantle decorated. The house is less cluttered and come January, it will be much easier to clean up and put away.
With quarantine restrictions, many people’s calendars look lighter this year. Choose a couple of favorite activities and events that you’ll enjoy. Plan to spend the rest of the time doing quiet things around the house. Read up about hygge and look for ways to incorporate it into your life. I hope you give a simpler Christmas a try this year and see if you find it calmer and more meaningful.
How to Make Christmas Less Stressful
Start with managing your expectations. We all have our visions of the perfect holiday season, but if we set our sights too high, reality can feel like a cold slap in the face. Try to let go of any perfectionist tendencies and learn to accept things the way they are. Focus on enjoying this lovely season just the way it is this year.
Remember that it won’t matter to your children, spouse, siblings, or grandkids how perfectly you wrapped their gifts. What matters is that you chose something meaningful just for them. Don’t spend hours upon hours getting the tree decorated just right if it stresses you out, or if you’re just not up to it this year. If you enjoy this activity, then go for it but if not, you might turn on some Christmas music, get the kids, and have fun decorating the house. Then pile everyone in the car with some hot chocolate and go look for Christmas lights.
If your cookies flopped, they probably still taste good. Homemade ornaments with “mistakes” are still charming and will become treasured possessions. Don’t worry about matching everything on the tree or your table. An eclectic style will reflect you, your family history and help you to remember Christmases of the past.
Remember that we all go through tough seasons. Some Christmases may be lot more challenging than others (Hello 2020…). Maybe there was a death in your family. Maybe you lost your job right before Christmas. Maybe the water heater broke at the most inopportune time and decimated your anticipated Christmas budget. It happens to everyone and while there are thousands of things that could happen that could potentially ruin Christmas, how you react to any of them is up to you.
Some years, you simply make the best of it and move on in good faith that better days are coming.Do what you can to give your loved ones a sweet Christmas, and chances are doing so will help cheer you up as well, no matter how big the challenges you’re facing this year. Many times it’s these unusual Christmases that will stand out and matter most to you and your family.