If you have recently lost a loved one with whom you would otherwise be sharing this holiday season, you might be finding yourself wanting to burrow under your covers with a box of tissues until the holidays have passed. If this sounds like you, it's time for some T.L.C. I don't believe we should ever push down our emotions, though social conventions might make it advisable to develop strategies for dealing with these challenges privately or having a dear and trusted friend bear witness to what we are feeling. Remember that even at their best, holidays can be stressful. So, make taking thoughtful and loving care of yourself your number-one priority for the holidays.
Until 2006, I spent every Christmas except one with my mother. We shared a home for the last nine years of her life. For the past four Christmases, I have been adrift, unable to decorate my house for the holidays and spending Christmas like a peripheral, orphaned outsider to other people's ways of spending the holiday. This year, I am finally ready to create Christmas on my own terms -- just for me.
I have worked hard to develop the ability to pay attention to my own truth, and this year I am ready to give myself a beautiful Christmas. I am profoundly aware of the fact that part of not having my own Christmas these past four years has been because I was telling myself it didn't matter because I had no one to make a fuss over. Then I had the tearful realization that I really need to make a fuss over myself this year. So, I am joyfully decorating my house with garlands, lights, wreaths, candles, angels and stars and plan to get a real Christmas tree, hoping that it survives my cats' first Christmas. I am buying myself lots of presents, too, and signing the tags from all different people who have loved me and enriched my life. My heart is full and open again, and it simply took as long as it took.
Here are my suggestions for how to honor your own process of regaining an inner balance with the holidays.
- Pay attention and be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you feel and what you need to do and not do as you move through this holiday season. Whether you have other people to coordinate your plans with or are facing the holidays alone, be as true to yourself as possible. Others may try to include you in their plans, or they may not, but it is really up to you to figure out what would be best for you. If you feel like sitting home in your pajamas sipping hot chocolate and crying or nibbling on cold pizza crust from the night before, that's OK. If you feel happy and want to joyfully participate in the holidays -- that's OK, too. Don't judge your truth, just live it and trust your own inner wisdom to carry you through.
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