• carey@kinneloa

Feeling it over the holidays

So here goes, I admit it. I am something of a holidays grump. Actually, I'm kind of split. On one hand, I absolutely love Christmas carols, and I make a pannetone every year that has taken on ritual quality. But the expense and hassle of presents, the big meals, even the decorations, all of that seems like a lot of work and some of it is kind of fraught. I mean, I love the decorations on other people's houses, but putting up my own is actually impossible, since I have muscular dystrophy and can't lift my arms over my head. And the meals are hard because of issues I've had in the past and am still trying to work through. Plus, I'm Jewish and I don't feel comfortable with the whole Christmas thing. So how can I both have a good time and not spoil it for the others in my family?

Now, some people have really strong reasons to be sad or uncomfortable over the holidays. Deaths in the family, previous blowups at family events, holidays spent alone or under the influence, these are all reasons to be wary of the season. The contrast between the ostensible festivity and what's going on inside your own head can be pretty stark. If this is your situation, I suggest spending some time thinking about what you can do to keep yourself emotionally safe. What boundaries do you need to draw? To whom can you reach out for emotional support? How can you reach out to others during this season, maybe those who could use your help?

If you're just a bit of a grump, like me, you might want to ask yourself what the real reason is that you are feeling grumpy. If you hate the commercialization of the holidays, what can you do among your family and friends to resist that trend? Or are you dreading Uncle Stewart? What boundaries can you draw so that he doesn't irritate you in the same way? How can you focus on one or two things that make the holidays meaningful for you? If you have a spiritual or religious affiliation, how can your spirituality make the holidays more meaningful? How can you focus more on being with those you love and less on the material side of things? What conversations would it be helpful to have with family beforehand, so you're all on the same page?

With some forethought and preparation, we can craft a holiday experience that is more in line with our values and feels less like a slog. Give it a try and post a comment afterwards to let me know how you got on.

Happy holidays!

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