As we pass through a major holiday season, I have had much quiet time this year to reflect. That hasn’t always been the case in my life at this time of year. For many people, as it used to be for me, holidays can be a time of intense activity and stress.
Holidays are different for everyone, and can change as we pass through stages of life.
For some, the holiday season can be a time of sadness, as we miss loved ones we have lost.
It can be a time of loneliness, if we are far from loved ones, without friends nearby.
It can be a time of joy, as friends and family gather.
It can be a mixture of all those emotions, made sharper by the time of year and the celebrations all around us.
It can also be a time of intense pressure. I can remember when our son was young, and the weeks leading up to Christmas meant parties, receptions, concerts, shopping, wrapping, cooking, preparing, sometimes traveling…it was exhausting. I often got sick, likely from the stress.
I can’t imagine the pressure and stress for those who aren’t able to afford all the gifts and food that many of us take for granted.
It isn’t just at Christmas time that we put ourselves through this, but Christmas seems the most intense of our holiday seasons. Which leads me to wonder, is all the pressure worth it?
When I look back at those years, I would still say yes, it is worth it. I love the feeling of surprising someone with a gift they love, although I know the season is not just about gifts. I can remember many happy family times as we would travel to gather together. I love to sit down to Christmas dinner, all together, and enjoy some great food. I remember all the smiles and laughter.
We get joy from seeing how our children love the season, and as we get older, we get new joy in watching our grandchildren enjoy the season. We pass on traditions and start new ones.
So perhaps the biggest lesson to learn through the stress and busy-ness of any holiday season, is to figure out what’s important, and focus on those aspects of your holiday – because it is your holiday. I don’t have to do what others do in order to have a holiday of value to me. This year was a quiet one, alone with my husband in Mexico. We missed our family but the beach and a round of golf is a new way to enjoy Christmas!
And what makes this time of year special can be re-recreated at other times; it doesn’t have to occur on one day in December. We gathered our family this year for a great Thanksgiving holiday, but it really can happen on any day.
However, whatever, and whenever you celebrate, make it right for you.