When the Holidays AREN'T Happy

By Beth Coles

You know that awesome feeling of excitement that happens on October 1? Before you can even order your first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season there's a Christmas tree set up in your neighborhood Target. There's a Fall Festival every weekend!! Hopefully you can catch a Nutcracker performance or at least get your turkey in the oven on time this year for the famously overlooked Thanksgiving Day. Oh wait, did we schedule our Santa Claus photo appointment yet? Well at least there's football on........


It's considered to be the most wonderful time of the year. So what if it isn't? What if you're grieving the loss of a loved one or that divorce is being filed January 1? Yet another year of being around a toxic and abusive family member is wearing you down? Someone around you probably isn't feeling up to celebrating the same way they did last year. Maybe you don't have anyone you want to celebrate with and that brings on some loneliness. How will you handle it when stress or emotional distress takes the “happy” out of the holiday?


Talk About Feelings: Hiding your feelings can result in inner turmoil or a blow-up later. Acknowledge the hard stuff and share it with a person you trust or journal about it. Be available to your children if they are also struggling with the season. Encourage the sharing of feelings in your home and family. Find additional support with mental health professionals if you haven't already.


Think Small: There is no rule that you have to engage in allholiday traditions. Talk with your loved ones to determine the best way to celebrate given the circumstances. Be honest with your friends and family and stick to your boundaries. 


Start a New Tradition: “This is what we always do/did.........” Give yourself permission not to do that thing anymore if it doesn't feel right or especially if it hurts too much. Travel instead or create your own tradition with the people you want to be with. Preserve the meaningful ones and move on from the rest.


Acts of Kindness: Donate your time at a local charity or host a toy drive with your children. Giving can happen in many ways. Take some time to express gratitude in a way special to you or to honor someone else. 


Treat Yourself: Practice self-care in a way that is meaningful and sustainable. It's a marathon not a sprint. Put yourself at the top of your To-Do list and develop a plan to care for yourself in the New Year. 


Lastly, I want to quote one of my favorites here to help you move forward with inspiration to be available to others who are hurting this holiday season.


“People who are hurting don't need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witness. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpful vigil to our pain.”
Glennon Doyle Melton,Love Warrior