Is anyone else out there identifying with Scrooge a bit this holiday season? Bah, humbug Scrooge, not Scrooge after he learned his lesson. I sure am this year! I put the tree up. I wrapped the gifts I have purchased. I watched a couple of holiday movies. I made some holiday plans. And, I still feel like crawling into a cozy hole until 2018.
I am just not in the mood for the holidays this year and it isn't because I have a bad attitude.
The holidays are messy. Sure, there is the physical messiness of gift lists and baking and decorating and activities. That isn't the messiness I am talking about.
The holidays are messy relationally.
Holiday time reminds us of who is no longer present around the table, whether through broken relationship or death.
Holiday time is a pressure cooker of emotions because stress plus unresolved pain equals high probability someone is going to lose it.
Holiday time means coming together with people because we are biologically related to them even if they have treated us like trash.
Holiday time can be a time of repeat visits into traumatic events and abusive behavior.
Now, how many of you are "Bah, humbug"ing with me?! Merry Christmas for who, right?!
Well, the truth is whether you had a pristine childhood or a very messy, complex and painful childhood, the holidays still have the potential to be difficult. Life is simply messy. One day it is gloriously bright and brings all kinds of optimism and the next day life is gloriously depressing and brings all kinds of awful. There is no predicting when life will bring what.
There is hope for ALL of us, no matter what life has thrown at us AND no matter what our attitude is this year heading into the holiday season.
If you are caught up in not feeling like a holiday this year like I am, let's try to remember two important truths as we navigate this holiday season.
1. We always have a choice.
I am dreading family time with the prickly people in my family because this year I feel like my resources are depleted. I feel like I want to scream, "Enough is enough! I will never be who you want me to be, so get over it. Move on!" But, well, that isn't who I want to be. I want to be love and light. So, as I head into time with the prickly people who really, truly, in the depths of their hearts believe "if Jill were who we need her to be, we would be just fine," I can choose rage or gentleness. Here's the reality---we've all been there. We have all believed at one time or another if the other person changed, all would be well. Right now, when it comes to the prickly people in my life, I seem to be the only one who knows I have no power to change another person and if I wait for another person to change so I feel better, well, that could be an eternity. Therefore, I can choose to be gentle with the prickly people and hope they will eventually release their pain through healthier venues.
2. Love does make a difference.
I don't mean this in a wrap your arms around each other's shoulders and sway kind of way. I mean deliberate commitment to BE and DO love this holiday season. When barbs are thrown my way, I can choose to remember the barbs are about their own feelings of fear and inadequacy and respond with the love that every human being deserves.
Here's a little secret: Just because they're family, doesn't mean we have to do or accept what they say as our truth.
I do a lot of smiling and nodding during the holidays. Why? Because I am affirming the very human drive under their prickly words and actions.
We all want to belong. We all want to feel safe. We all try and attain belonging and safety in selfish ways from time to time. Because we all do it, love demands I am patient with my fellow humans as they are very human even if it is maddening and hurtful. It is okay to say "that's interesting" or "thank you" and move on without trying to correct or accept as truth what another is forcing on us for their own false sense of security. Love accepts people where they are at and in that simple acceptance, love leaves people scratching their heads wondering why we didn't lash out or get angry.
Even in the midst of not being in the mood, I can choose love. I don't have to bake or get lost in the craziness the holidays can be, but I am pretty sure the holidays will be happier if I choose to show up with love.