Holiday Thoughts: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

December 27, 2011

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.

-Lauren Verlizzo