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Happy Holidays?

Holidays can be difficult for many people. While the traditional idea of holiday joy continues to be promoted as the ideal, the truth behind the scenes for many people is that holidays can be stressful times for interacting with family members we choose to see only rarely for most of the rest of the year. For others, the ache to see family or be accepted by loved ones is only intensified when feelings of isolation, actual distance, or rejection--real or imagined--prevent one from experiencing the joy of the season.

Focusing on self is a sure way to sabotage any holiday gathering. Focusing on the trappings of the season is equally hollow and unfulfilling for others. Amid the "hustle and bustle" of the holiday months hope can slowly fade and discouragement, disappointment, or dispair can set in when the anticipated experience is not what actually happens.

Truth is, whether it is December 6th, 25th, or 31st, the actually day that the holiday falls on is simply another day. Lowering one's expectations may initially feel cynical or resigned, but could be the way to step off the "rollercoaster" of holiday mood swings.

Changing how one thinks about the holiday changes what one is likely to expect. The fantasy, unfulfilled, surely will lead to disappointment, bitterness, outrage, or simple sadness. The date on the calendar is not at fault. Media and advertizers are not really at fault either, they feed the appetite of the public. Disconnecting oneself from the "appetite for the fantasy" can be disorienting at first, but ultimately freeing and stabilizing during difficult emotionally charged events and celebrations.

Today I will focus on the day of the week, not the date on the calendar. I will notice and appreciate the excitement surrounding me for this holiday event, and I will notice and appreciate the calm in myself when I detach from the fantasy that others have taught me should be happening on this day.

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