You might have had losses or trials in their life that are overwhelming any attempt at celebration. You remember last year with tears in your eyes.
You might put many demands on yourself, buying gifts, cooking elegant food, decorating the house so that it looks like something out of Better Homes and Gardens. You feel you have to plan for everything. Aunt Molly is now gluten-free. Son Joey, an animal kind of person, is horrified by the sight of a whole turkey with no head. And Uncle Simon will get a little tipsy if dinner isn’t served on time.
You could have strained relationships with your family, so the thought of seeing them, or questions of, “Are you seeing family this year?” loom large. There may be things going on in your life or your childrens’ that you would prefer not to talk about.
The holiday season seems like a long haul.
To throw more fuel on the fire, many people, as the sun goes down more quickly and cold, gloomier weather comes our way, experience SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. That’s usually a mild or moderate despondency during the colder months that can be tough to deal with.
I think the key is acceptance.
If you don’t cook a lot, then your meal may not all come out at the same time. No problem. Rolls make great dessert, and easy tastes just as good as complicated.
If you’ve never been a very good gift giver, that’s okay. Offer to help out, and give gift cards. Or ask for a specific list.
Accept where you are in life.
If you’ve had a trauma or loss this year, accept that this will not be the year you will be leading the singing. Give yourself the gift of taking a smaller role in any festivities you might feel like attending. Honor your grief by going to a “Blue Christmas” church service, or whatever your particular faith might offer. Or plan a ritual of some kind to recognize how you are feeling.
Give people something to do.
Especially if you are worried that people might not get along or you are simply stressed about that many people being in your house. I always had to pass out napkins at my grandmother’s, a task that I felt I was far too savvy for. But I was the youngest, so there you have it. I’m sure my grandmother knew I was a klutz and would probably break some of her nice china.
Recite a mantra every day.
“It’s only three hours,” “I will get done today all that I am supposed to,” or whatever else might help. Think ahead of time how you will answer a unwanted question. “Thanks so much for asking about Jenny – I’ll let her know you did.” (Perhaps the communication version of bait and switch.)
Don’t compare yourself with others.
Recognize that some people will put on a great show. And everything will seem perfect. “Seem” is the important word there. Nobody’s life is perfect. But some folks need for others to think it is.
I hope your Thanksgiving will not be the beginning of a long haul, but one day where you can breathe. Eat good food. Drink in what is good around you.
And be grateful for the chance.
[tweetthis]If what is before you seems like a long haul, then find how you can unburden yourself.[/tweetthis]
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Thank you for reading! SUBSCRIBE in the gray box on the right and you can receive my weekly newsletter in your email, along with a free copy of my eBook, “Seven Commandments Of Good Therapy,” a guide to choosing a therapist or evaluating your current therapeutic work. You can personally contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.