Whenever I hear, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” I ask
myself: “Really? For who?” Everything from commercials to songs to
people who wear reindeer sweaters put pressure on us to be extra happy at
holiday time. Some people feel the sting of a loss, physical or
otherwise, during the holidays and instead of living up to the hype,
they are defeated by it. Sometimes the promise of a new year only
brings back memories of the past.
Without any type of counseling degree whatsoever, I’m here to tell you
you’re allowed to reflect on your loss. You’re allowed to feel sad.
I give thanks every day for my abilities. This does not change the fact
that I miss “my old life,” especially at Christmas time. Independently
finding a parking spot at the mall, baking for home, baking for
holiday parties (I don’t know why I still want to believe that, truth
is, I only ever brought wine – still do), running to see this friend and
that, and doing it all while wearing sky high heels that pinched my
toes, were problems I didn’t have the foresight to view as luxuries.
Holiday activities become holiday responsibilities when faced with
challenges that include the highly unpleasant systemic effects of a
fractured knee, tightness, spasms, sciatica, and muscle weakness.
Still, I have the ability to sit here and type and share this (lucky
you!). That makes the difficulties worthwhile, but loss still changes
a person. When it comes to gifts, I still like clothes and shoes and
jewelry as much as the next girl, but my need for these things has
changed. What I honestly want for Christmas is a new hip flexor.
Enter the old memories that feel as real as ever, the ghosts of my
Christmas’ past. There must be a way to reconcile the two, maybe not to perfection, but
at least to make peace for the time being.
I believe in simplification. I’m hardly going to renounce all material possessions
like The Buddha or go live in the woods (as tempting as it sounds)
like Thoreau, but I know that a house full of stuff does not mean a
house full of joy. I’m but one humble example of someone who must take
a seemingly insurmountable situation and turn it into a lifelong quest
for resolution. Experiencing nature, music, new places, even time
alone, whatever it is that makes you joyful, may begin to fill the
empty space where happiness should reside. Shifting focus from
reflecting on our losses to our gains may fill it a little more.
Laughing, definitely more. I want to seek out future experiences
without measuring them against the past.
I can’t explain how in one paragraph or less because I have yet to
live it. Christmas and New Years may never be the happiest season of
all, but perhaps if I can put aside the mental clutter long enough to
notice the twinkle of lights, write a meaningful card, or observe the
excitement in my nephew’s eyes when he talks about Santa, I might find
a little holiday cheer in the challenge.