Are you anticipating that it is not going to be easy getting through this holiday because of a divorce, the death of a loved one, or having an empty nest. May be you are suffering from a chronic health condition, suddenly unemployed, or are single without family?
The holiday season can add more stress because of these life changes. Our great expectations of having family around for Christmas, of being in good health, or having a great job may be unfulfilled.
The holiday ads on TV promote the view of the happy, healthy family showing grandparents, parents, and grandchildren around the holiday dinner table and Christmas tree. This scenario may not be your reality. The difference between your life and the life you see on TV can cause a deep sense of loss, sadness, and depression.
Have you noticed that much of the holiday season is full of happy family images in which everything seem so perfect. If this picture is not your reality, you could feel on the outside of the holiday celebrations among your relatives, your church, or local community.
Pete and Jenny (not their real names) left New York for new jobs in Oregon 25 years ago. Pete and Jenny divorced this year. This is Jenny’s first holiday without her husband. Her two married daughters have demanding jobs out of state and will both be working through the holidays. Jenny’s parents are deceased, and her only sibling died years ago. Jenny is anticipating a different kind of holiday this year.
One of my favorite authors is, Mrs. Charles Cowman. In her book Springs in the Valley she tells this story about Napoleon.
Once Napoleon was reviewing his troops near Paris. His horse shifted under him, restlessly pawing the ground. In the eagerness of giving a command, the Emperor had let the reins drop from his hands. Suddenly, the spirited animal jerked away. Napoleon was in danger of being hurled to the ground. An alert young private, standing in the lines, leapt forward, seized the bridle, and saved his beloved commander from a fall. The Emperor glanced at tim and abruptly said, “Thank you, Captain.” The private looked up with a spreading smile and asked, “Of what regiment, sir? “Of my guards,” announced Napoleon. Instantly, he galloped to another part of the field.
The young soldier laid down his musket remarking, “Whoever will may carry that gun. I am done with it”. He proceeded at once to join a group of officers who stood conversing at a little distance. One of them, a General, observing his self-possessed approach, angrily said, “What is this private doing here?”
“This private,” answered the young soldier looking the other steadily in the eye, “is a Captain of the Guards.” “He said it,” replied the soldier pointing to the Emperor, who was far down the line. ” I beg your pardon, Captain,” politely returned the General, “I was not aware of your promotion.”
To those looking on he was still a private, dressed in the coarse rough garb of a common soldier, but in the bold assertion of his dignity, he could meet all the jeer of his comrades and all the scoffs of his superiors with the ready reply, “He said it.”
When you know your life has meaning to other people, as did the young soldier in the above story, it can give you strength to stand up for what you need to do when life does not go your way.
Jenny had mixed emotions about her first holiday alone. She is relieved not to be with Pete anymore even though it would have been a familiar situation.
Jenny found some widowed friends from her church to be with for Christmas. Jenny knew she could count on her friends. This gave Jenny a sense of well being and of feeling connected to others.
8 tips to help you better enjoy your holiday season as you transition through your relationship and life changes.
First, find a quiet place to sit. Take some time to reflect on these questions. Write down your answers.
1. How did you usually celebrate the holidays? What needs to change now?
2. What is a realistic plan for you this year to celebrate the holiday? Who do you want to celebrate the holidays with? Where do you want to celebrate?
3. Are there changes you want to make for your holiday that you can prepare for? For example, bake cookies, write holiday greetings cards to friends and loved ones, go to a community holiday event with someone, play your favorite music and volunteer your time helping those in need.
4. If your loved one has died, try to schedule some time with your loved ones before the main celebration to tell stories of your loved one who has died, so you can mourn the loss and celebrate, too.
5. Do something fun for yourself.
6. Pay attention to your beliefs. If they have changed, do your holidays reflect these changes?
7. What rituals or celebrations remain the same through your transition? Such as food, musical events, sending greeting cards, watching-TV specials or baking cookies.
8. One of the secrets of being physically and emotionally healthy is remaining connected to others. Take time to be with friends and other people this holiday. We all need people in our lives who we can be ourselves with and trust. Write down who these people are for you. How and when will you connect with them?
If you are going through a life change during the holiday season, find something to laugh about, show kindness, and promote the spirit of giving perhaps by giving a smile to someone.
Someone once told me that in giving without strings attached you will receive something back in return. I know I have received unexpected blessings many times in my life in this way.
Give something to others. You may be surprised what comes your way this holiday season and into the new year.
Let’s talk. How have you enjoyed the holiday season with your life changes?
Send a comment.