The holiday season can be hard for many reasons, whether you have to see family you don’t get along with, feel financially obligated to buy everyone a gift, or just have anxiety around the whole season itself, “the most wonderful time of the year” can become a nightmare.
I grew up loving Winter and the holiday season, I celebrate Christmas every year. I have always found it to be the best time of year because growing up I thought everyone was happier around Christmas time…I was wrong.
The past few years have been some of the hardest…I lost my mother right before Christmas in 2015, since then I have noticed it isn’t all joyous and fun.
I have a big family and although I love all of them, I have always been a shy and anxious kid. Now that my mom isn’t here to protect me when it comes to family, I feel a lot more alone.
The obligations that come with family gatherings and presents can feel more like a chore than a party, especially when you have a significant other whose family you have to split time with.
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is still my favorite, but I don’t necessarily look forward to it the way I used to.
I am writing this the day after Christmas so that all of my thoughts from yesterday are still fresh.
I had an amazing Christmas Eve with my close family and then my significant other. Christmas morning was also pretty great, we woke up and got ready to head over to my significant others family home where we opened gifts and had a super delicious french toast breakfast. I wanted to let you in on that, not to brag, just to show how I use acknowledging the good and appreciating what you have as a healthy coping mechanism.
See, when my anxiety gets bad, I tend to focus on the negatives rather than the positives and get overwhelmed even though I have so much to be thankful for.
Recently I started trying to acknowledge more of the positives in my life and things I am blessed to have, instead of getting myself worked up over one small inconvenience.
Yesterday, Christmas, there was so much for me to be thankful for…
- The amazing person I got to spend my entire day with and the family I got to meet on their side.
- The ability I have to see my family when others are not as lucky.
- The amazing gifts I was able to give and receive from all of my loved ones.
- The day to relax and remember what it is really about.
We often forget what Christmas is truly about and just wait in anticipation for the gifts we hope to get, now that I am a bit older and my list has gotten shorter, I have realized the meaning of Christmas has more to do with acknowledging the amount of love there is surrounding you, even in your darkest times.
It is also important to remember that not everyone has the same Christmas experience as you do, some people are really going through hard times and may not be super cheery, some people may not be able to spend the holidays with family or even have no family to spend it with.
I do want to add in that spending the holidays with your partners family can be nerve wracking as well. I love my partners family but I do get anxious meeting new people, holding conversations, and have a weird need for everything to go exactly according to plan.
I will let you in on a secret, my partners family lives a minute down the road from me, so its a very easy commute. Being that it is so easy and I am close with his family, he spent the night of Christmas eve sleeping at my house, so naturally we were with his family in the morning.
As most couples must contend with, we also had to make time to visit with my extended family, which I always enjoy, but gave me extreme anxiety trying to fit everything into a single day.
At times like this it is important to communicate with your partner, not just about scheduling but also about how you are feeling throughout the day. My partner was instrumental in helping me stay calm when I was getting overwhelmed.
Sometimes when the holidays get to us, we take our frustration out on the people we love, when this is a time to appreciate them. Open communication and honesty got us through Christmas and allowed us to enjoy each others company, not resent it.
The holidays are only a few months out of the year but can be quite taxing, try to be patient with others as well as yourself.