Ah, the holidays. Such a blissful time. Lights twinkling from impossible places in trees. Distant carols. Shopping bags with tufts of tissue paper. Family orbiting the kitchen island, jumping into the conversation however they can between cubes of cheese and so-and-so’s famous pie.
Pure happiness, contentment, presence, and cheer. Right?
Mmm…not so much. Let’s get real about the holidays right now, and shatter the glass snow globe our culture has carefully constructed around them to keep us buying more gifts and stressing out about the perfect place setting. The holidays can bring up a lot of uncomfortable junk for us. A lot.
Yes. I’m a total sucker for Christmas cookies, a pile of gifts, and loud conversations with all of my Greek + Italian aunts. I could probably do without the music, to be honest, but that’s beside the point. I really freaking love Christmas. And the 30 days before it–right when the nostalgia of post-Thanksgiving begins to set in, we catch the glimmer of Christmas on the periphery of our vision. Ah, there it is. Soon. Soon. Soon! Soon we can stop working, start talking. Stop dieting, and stuff our faces. Stop micro-managing our bank accounts and just give. And of course, receive, receive, receive.
The holidays are a beautiful, exciting time. But they are an indulgent time, a heightened time. And like all of the heightened moments of our lives, they come with a whole string of possibilities for emotional instability. With the potential for pure, full-belly bliss, also comes the potential for dragging up those annoying little patterns and emotions that we just don’t want to feel—or even worse, that we thought we were beyond feeling by now.
All it can take is one off-handed comment from Uncle Charlie, or to misread baking soda for baking powder to send us spiraling down into the shadow of our stressed-out, maxed-out, cracked-out, totally misaligned selves.
So, I’ve compiled this: my new age kid’s guide to preparing for and dealing with the slew of pain that can often be hanging around just underneath the mistletoe and eggnog, those darker pools of insecurity that can creep up and stifle the cheer we’ve been waiting for all year (side note: you don’t have to wait all year for it…but you know that, right?).
I wish you all the most light-infused, soul-filling, magnificent holidays ever. I truly do. But just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean that your pain will just magically go away. And more importantly, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to feel it.
If you’re feeling family pressure:
You are enough. Let go of the need to prove yourself. Know that, no matter how many questions they may hurl at you, your family does so only out of love. Only because you moved so far away, only because they crave to feel closer to you. Only because maybe you’ve inspired them or challenged them. Answer honestly. Do not shy away. Do not shrink. You aren’t here to play small. They don’t want you to, either. Let them know where you really are, what really lights you up. And no, you are not lost. You aren’t the black sheep, the wayward son. You are unfolding in your own time. They all had to do it once, too.
If you’re alone:
You are not. Our bodies are holy containers, chalice. Lighthouse for our souls. From what our eyes can tell, sure, they keep us separate. But we are not. Distance is a trick of the mind. It belongs only on a map, invented so we could begin to grasp the immensity of this world and our existence on it. Close your eyes. Let the space behind your eyes be filled with your breath. Let that be all you have. Let the insecurities fall away. Let the thoughts of “why am I still single,” “why did I move here alone,” or whatever they may be pass through. Let them come. And then let them fall to the floor. Hear them puddle there, harmless as rain. Watch them evaporate. Feel your connection. Feel your birthright to communion. I am there with you. I am one in love with you. We all are. What is your dream, is also mine, is also ours.
If you’re healing:
Light. Only light. Go towards the light. Any source you can find. Be it the last candle burning on the dining room table, or your aunt’s laugh. Flock to it. You are fragile. It will illuminate all of your cracks, but that’s okay. Your pain is staggering. Your loss is beautiful. It will bring you closer to love. It will bring you closer to the flame of your soul. That’s why it’s hurting so much. You’re so close to the source that your skin is shedding. Leave it there, useless on the floor. Stay in the light. Let it call the tears from your eyes. Let someone hold you. It will be terrifying. Let them do it anyway. Your vulnerability is not a small thing. It doesn’t make you weak. It’s making the whole world swell, the whole damn planet expand.
If you’ve lost:
Feel into the ache. Let it gape open. Wear it on your chest for everyone to see. It is a part of you. You will carry it in this life. You will never move past it, but you will continue to move with it. It will be sharp or it will be dull. There is no pause button. Your loss is not exempt from a certain date on the calendar, so honor it now as you would any day. Talk to the one(s) you’ve lost. Invite them to dinner with you. Reach for their hand. I promise you that they are there. Cry when you feel them and cry when you do not. Either way, they will gather in your light. They still sense a place at your family table. Love them. Bless them for leaving their body, for reaching out into the ascent. Bless them for teaching us that these bodies are temporary, that we are nomads. That our true home is in the colony of stars.
If you’re feeling stressed:
Give the gift of your presence instead. Who cares if the turkey is dry, or if you get your spoiled nephew the right gift. The sheer magnitude of you in a room is enough to level empires. Own your greatness. Release the need to prove it by throwing the most glittering party, or by pleasing the crankiest guests. You’re going to pull it all off, anyway. You always do. So for now, relax into your being. Pour that glass of wine. For yourself. All of the external shine in this world is here for us to enjoy, but the night will end and it will fade. Don’t lose your own halo in it. That’s here to stay.
If you’re feeling hatred:
Forgive. There is no other option, not for the other person, but for you. Forgive. And if you can’t, yet, then I give you your prayer this season: I am willing to forgive. Say it. At the altar of the Christmas tree, or as you watch the smallest cousin in the room unwrap a gift. Look at her. She feels no hate. She has already forgotten. Already forgiven. She is free. You can be, too. The pain is real, but the past is nothing. It’s ridiculous, really, when you compare it to the magic staring you in the face. Be willing to forgive and find that the hand tightening in your chest is actually your own.
If you’re so incredibly happy:
Thank you. Lean into it. We need your joy. I’m going to say that again: we need your joy. Tack it up on your wall, right above your head, next to the dreamcatcher or the Jimi Hendrix poster. It is your true north. Thank you for seeing it clearly this season. Thank you for dwelling in your natural state. The world craves your vibrations. The suffering, the hostages, the homeless, they need your joy. It is not selfish. You aren’t stealing it from anyone else. You do not have to earn it. Lean into the joy. Let it take you in so you can leave it crackling behind you, everywhere you go.
What else do you need help moving with this holiday season? Let me know. Comment or send me a message right here.