Holidays and special occasions can be a really difficult time for people. Not just for those with mental health issues, or people that have suffered great loss, just everyday people. There is an expectation of happy that is assumed and almost down right demanded when it comes to these events. Because humans are not light switches it can be difficult to turn up the “happy” when it’s just not there. Some people become so immersed in the preparation they forget the entire purpose. Everything needs to be “just so” or it all falls apart.
When we think of stress we usually assume it is because of a negative thing. But even too much happy and excitement can be stressful. When I was growing up I would get so excited and worked up before Christmas I would end up getting sick. I would get so overwhelmed with emotions my body just couldn’t handle it. I would be miserable as I opened presents under the tree and I would be so unhappy that I couldn’t enjoy them.
I remember also being really sad when the holidays were over. It would be this enormous build up to an amazing gift and family filled event that would just end. This was never a gradual ending, gently lowered back to reality, it was a full on drop from the top. Christmas carols done, decorations put away, happy holiday wishes over. This was all traumatic in and of itself. I hated December 26th. I didn’t really consider New Year’s Eve a holiday until I was old enough to appreciate it.
As I got older I had to make a concerted effort to calm the hell down and appreciate each moment of the holiday season, not just the day. This helped me appreciate the other non-gift giving holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween so much more.
What I still see and hear about are those that haven’t yet been able to take that step back and appreciate the holidays for what they are. I don’t know anyone that will admit they want to show off their amazing cooking skills or brag about their mind-blowing decorations. But dang, if people don’t freak out when their potatoes are not fluffy or all the blue lights go out on their ridiculously huge Christmas tree.
What are the holidays about anyway? Are they to spend time with family, are they to remind us to be grateful for what we have, are there religious reasons? Whatever meanings the holidays hold in our hearts, those seem to get lost in translation when put into action. Remember the Reasons for the Season. Yes, that is an overused saying typically for Christmas decorations, but I think it holds true for any belief system that celebrates a special occasion.
Perhaps we can remind ourselves and those we love that it doesn’t matter if everything is perfect. Even if we are not full of the joy and thanks the holidays dictate, that’s OK too. Perfect is the time together not the stuff around us. Come on world, let’s give ourselves a break!