Thanksgiving has left me full and tired.
I am full – not only of turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes, but with gratitude and thanksgiving for family and friends. I am tired – exhausted from filling myself with so much food and from the emotional toll that often accompanies the holiday seasons.
Now that the feast and holiday of Thanksgiving is done, I have begun to anticipate the holiday of Christmas and all that it entails: various sights, sounds, and smells which have certain bitter-sweet associations attached. Due to the anxiety that comes about as a result of worrying what Christmas might be like, I am consciously deciding to avoid the holiday hum “bug.”
“What is the holiday hum “bug’?” you might ask.
It is the opposite of what I would consider caring for myself. It’s “checking out” of life or rushing through life during the holidays; it’s the avoidance of participating in activities that might be of help – whether talking to a trained professional, beginning a new tradition, or being gentle with oneself.
Over the past sixteen years, I have indeed caught this “bug” on occasion. Either “checking out” or over-doing it were temptations, particularly around Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday celebrations, and other holidays. It would have been much easier to avoid or rush through this time of year than be in the midst of various holiday celebrations.
This year however, I plan to incorporate into my daily routine and weekly schedule activities that will help me remain awake and alert during the most “wonderful time of year,” rather than tune out the experiences that still are part of my life.
I have included both old and new traditions that I find help me survive the holidays – all of which are centered on care of oneself and participation within the larger community. For example:
1. Being Gentle with Myself: I find ways that help me remember that while this season is one for giving, it is also one for receiving. Caring for myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually are ways to give myself a great gift, enabling me to survive the holidays.
2. Remembering Others: Focusing attention on other people rather than always on myself is another practice that has helped me get through the holiday seasons.
3. Participating in Favorite Pastimes: By participating in various pastimes, I am able to de-stress for a short while. I can take a reprieve from the pain and focus on the fact that despite all of life’s challenges, there are many graces; many opportunities to experience joy and happiness.
These three practices, along with a variety of others, have helped me to survive an emotionally-laden time of the year and to experience, as best I can, the holidays. In so doing, I have avoided the holiday hum “bug” and an occasional “Achoo!”
Kate McGrath 2010Tags: grief, hope