Finding a little PEACE

Categories: Family and Fierce Self-Love.

 

How are you doing, friend?

 

No, really… how are you? It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and in my experience, this is when the shit starts flying towards the fan.

 

If you cringe when you think about cooking another turkey (you hate turkey!) or want to scream when you hear the beginning strains of “it’s the moooost wonderful tiiiime of the yeeeear” then it might be time to take a closer look at what your “holiday season” has become.

 

I want to help you experience more PEACE this year, and that looks like:

 

P: please and thank you–we can be kind as we state our needs

E: examine expectations

A: accept that humans are unique and have preferences

C: compromise (it’s often possible)

E: ease into the holidays!

 

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day or Winter Solstice (or multiple holidays… or one of the dozen other world holidays in December that I didn’t list) this month can get out of control if we don’t approach it with mindfulness.

 

Traditions are great, but what about the ones your family has out-grown, or those that no longer inspire the joy that they were originally intended to bring? Oftentimes, we just plug right along, not wanting to disappoint anyone. We suffer in silence (or passive-aggressively, which is no fun for anyone!) and don’t even bring up the sore spot in conversation to get a gauge of how others in our family feel about it.

 

After my divorce, the boys were going to be at their dad’s house for Thanksgiving… my very first holiday without them. I’m not going to lie–it was SO hard!. But one thing I am proud of is that, before they left, I asked them how they felt about putting up the Christmas tree. Did they want to do it together when they got back home from their dad’s? Or would they like me to put it up while they were gone, so they could come home to it? 

 

I had this fantasy of trimming the tree together, a Hallmark movie of the single mom making the holidays bright despite the challenges. But the reality was, the boys said they loved looking at the tree but didn’t really like the actual decorating of it!! 

 

So part of my grieving process that weekend (yes, we grieve things other than the death of someone close to us) included putting up and decorating the tree by myself. They came home to the love and warmth of the Christmas season, and I didn’t have any hurt feelings from assuming they wanted to help with the tree and then being disappointed in their participation (which I’m guessing would have been less than enthusiastic.) All it took was asking. With love and kindness. 

 

This is an EASY example. What about the hard ones? What about the traditions that every other stinking member of the family seems to love, but you despise?

 

Is there a particular part of the holidays that you can’t stand? Like when you think of it, you get a sense of dread in the pit of your stomach and your whole body tenses up?

 

Friend, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. One that I only know because my child died. (Yes, it’s the worst super-secret club on the planet… you don’t want to be in my club, especially since I can just share the secrets I’ve learned with you.) 

 

THERE ARE NO RULES. 

 

“No rules for what?” you might ask.

 

LIFE. 

 

But right now we’re going to focus on the holiday season… there are no rules for how to celebrate your chosen holidays! 

 

You will not die if you don’t eat homemade tamales before going to Christmas Eve Vigil Mass. (Examples from my own past life… I kept the tamales and quit Mass, lol) 

 

The world will not stop if you throw your Aunt’s fruit cake straight into the trash or offer it on your local Buy Nothing Facebook group (because I know you have kindly asked her to not send it your way multiple times.) 

 

You will not perish if you don’t make your great-grandma’s oyster stuffing. You know, the one that everyone takes the tiniest spoonful of to be polite, but nobody even eats?

 

Your kids will not be irreparably damaged if you choose to NOT go into debt to buy all the fancy gifts this year. 

 

YOU CAN MAKE THE RULES THAT WORK FOR YOU!

 

Now, if we are lucky enough to share our life with other humans, there will be conflicting opinions about things. It’s human nature to have unique likes and dislikes… that’s just the way it is. But I know there is a path out of the conflict–a way to find creative solutions that meet as many people’s needs as possible.

 

This is the first year we will have a Christmas tree in the house since my son died. I think I’m ready (and I guess we’ll see, won’t we?) But that first Christmas, I told my love that I couldn’t handle it. He said that was okay with him, but he really wanted to have lights on the outside of the house. 

 

Now we have differing opinions on the importance of lights on the outside of the house. I love how they look, but not enough to suffer through putting them up and taking them down every year. But that year (and the next) it was our compromise–we would skip the tree trimming, and I would stand outside and assist as he put the lights up on the house.

 

It took asking for what I needed to figure out that compromise. To determine what was important to each of us and try to find a way to get both of our needs met.

 

So what is your dreaded thing?

 

The first step is taking the time to think about what you love about your holiday celebrations and what you don’t. You can’t ask for what you need if you don’t know what you need, right?

 

Then, be prepared to compromise…if the kids love to ride or walk through that one super-decorated neighborhood that every town seems to have, and both you and your spouse hate that? Then one of you gets to do the thing, or you suffer through together, ha! Or take turns–one year you and the next, them. Even better? Find a friend or neighbor or relative who loves the thing (heyyyyyy, favorite Auntie!) and ask that person to take the kids! It could turn into a special thing that they all look forward to every year (and you and your honey get the night to do other things, woohoo!)

 

Give it a try, won’t you? At least start the conversation… you may find that the thing you dread but do anyway because others seem to love it, is the thing that they’re actually dreading, too

 

My hunch is, you’ll find ways to compromise. And if not, you can try out the following: 

“No, that doesn’t work for me.” 

 

Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Yes, friend, you can opt out. Of just about anything. And the world will keep turning. 

 

We’ll chat more about that later, k?

For now, just try to bring a little more PEACE into your holiday season.

You’ve got this… and you deserve all the peace the season can bring!