Home for the Holidays Without Stress and a Misplaced Sense of Obligation

12/23/2017 05:59 am ET

For so many people, the Christmas holidays can be the hardest time of the year. A loved one may be absent for any one of many reasons and it can make us feel really sad. For some, going home for the holidays brings back memories of past holidays that were filled with fighting and arguing. For others, going home and being with the family might not be an option because the price of a ticket to travel there is not in the budget or they may not be able to get the time off from work. Or they may have to spend time with a spouse’s family rather than their own at this time of the year. Or you may be too sick to travel or prefer not to be seen by others if you are recovering cancer treatments. So how does one deal with the holidays under these circumstances?

For me, I used to travel home every year to spend the time with my family. But, after my parents died, I did spend a couple of holidays at my sister’s home but then it became too difficult to join her and her family for Christmas. And by that time, I started spending the holidays with my husband’s family. But, in doing so, I missed a lot of the traditions that we used to observe but that was fine as long as I was spending the time with my husband. But as the years passed, I decided to start bringing back some of the old traditions as well as starting some new ones in our home.

Because of the warm climate where we live, a real tree dries out so quickly that there is hardly time to enjoy it so we did get an artificial one. As a result, the tree now goes up the day before Thanksgiving and gets decorated with the host of very special ornaments that have been collected over the years and we have the official tree lighting on Thanksgiving night to inaugurate the season. That way, the beauty of the tree can be enjoyed for a few weeks rather than days.

My point is that the holidays are what we make of them. For some, the holidays are changed forever because of cancer. It may be a new diagnosis or another holiday with advanced breast cancer. But, no matter the situation, it is up to us to choose how to deal with the holidays. It has been my choice to enjoy them and appreciate that I am here to enjoy them. Maybe I can’t keep up with every past tradition but I sure want to keep the ones that were most important to me and know that I can create new ones, ones that will work perfectly for me under any circumstances in which I find myself.

It isn’t necessary to go anywhere that you don’t want to go and you don’t have to participate in any events that you don’t want to choose. If you want to relax at home on Christmas Eve and share a meal with just one special person, no amount of pushing or prodding from anyone else should be allowed to interfere with your choice. If you want to get up on Christmas morning and open a present before you go to visit with family, that is what you should do. If you don’t feel like baking the usual Christmas cookies, someone else can do that or you can buy them.

No one else should ever decide how you spend your holidays. In the true spirit of the season, peace on earth and good will toward men was the intention. Stress and a misplaced sense of obligation should never even be a consideration in making or enjoying your holiday season. Therefore, my wish for you at this most special time of the year is that you have the best holidays ever and that you can be home for the holidays, which is wherever your heart may take you.

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