Hello out there!
It has been two weeks since I wrote last. They say Life Happens…and it does. So now it is time to get back to the writing.
The holidays are coming!!! The holidays are coming!!!! The holidays are coming!!!!! 12 days to Thanksgiving! 43 days to Xmas! 49 days to New Year’s Eve! And I didn’t even mention Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Al-Hijira, Diwali, or Festivus…
As a wonderful person living alone, do you freak out with the approach of these special days? Do you get depressed? Do you perhaps drink a little too much? Eat a little too much? Forget to exercise? Bury yourself in work? Spend too much money? Perhaps the stress comes from being far away from your family and not having the money or time to be with them. Or…maybe the expectation of being with your family is like a burden and it weighs you down. You don’t really like Aunt Helen and your father’s new wife is such a boor. Well, we all need to slow down and think about this season.
Growing up in a military family, we moved often and holidays took on a special meaning. It was a time of the year that we could celebrate with food, lights, laughter and gifts. That tradition carried over into my adult years, then with my own family, and now as a single person living apart from family. Every year the tree is decorated with my favorite things. German Nutcrackers are given a place of honor in the house. A wreath at the door to welcome friends. Even though I have no family near, I have an extended family of friends and neighbors. Sometime in December I will host an open house with food and drink and music. Some years there are just a few guests, other years the house is overflowing. Why? Because I need something to remind me that there is a world of family out there. I just need to invite them in.
In our local newspaper last week there was an article on how to deal with this holiday stress. (The information was taken from mayoclinic.com)
1. Acknowledge your feelings. Has someone close to you recently died? You can’t be with your loved ones? It is normal to feel sadness. It is okay to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. Families grown and change, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. Your adult children can’t come to your house? You can’t afford to time or money to go to theirs? Share photos, emails, and Skype.
4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances for a later day. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something doesn’t work out. Chances are they are feeling some stress or depression too.
5. Stick to a budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts, or start a family gift exchange. Now that my grandchildren are in high school, we don’t give big gifts of things, but rather experiences we can share. Tickets to a film or concert. A trip to the town center to gaze on all the beautiful windows. A drive through the neighborhood to admire the light displays.
The holidays can be fun and exciting. Only you can make that happen.