Last night I attended one of my most treasured events of the holiday season: the Blue Christmas service at the local Unitarian church. As a not-super-Christmasy person, I don’t tend to get very holly and jolly at this time of year – Thanksgiving is my holiday of choice!
But for the past few years, the Blue Christmas service has touched my heart. I initially attended because of a challenging time in my family, and a yearning to boost the spirit of the season. The following years I participated to reacquaint myself with the gratitude I hold for the season – the opportunity to reflect on the year past and to find the sparkles often hidden in my overwhelm. This year, I held space for those in their current depths of blue.
Truth be told, the holidays are not all they’re cracked up to be in many families. It can bring shadows, lurking with regret, unhealed wounds, missed opportunities for forgiveness, disappointment, heartache…all weighted down by overwhelming emotionally heavy expectations of unattainable and/or unmaintainable joy and hope. Often the history of past-holidays-gone-by sit next to Uncle Joe, eat too much dessert, and laugh at other people’s expense.
Even more tangible are fresh aches of the holidays. This season may mark a particularly sad time – a first holiday without something or someone. Aloneness may bring loneliness, illness may bring physical pain, divorce may bring lost rituals, separation across the miles may bring homesickness, lost jobs may bring financial hardship, heartache may bring depression, and secrets may bring silence.
So often during the holiday season people aim for the ‘stiff-upper-lip’ approach all to avoid being seen (or named) a ‘party-pooper.’ Expectation rides a wave of pretending ‘all-is-fine’ for other people’s sake. But what about your holiday? What about the truth of your experience? What are you really feeling this holiday season?
Not being able to live up to the expectation of the ‘prefect holiday’ just adds more pressure. However, if you release this expectation – the denial of your authentic feelings – what will happen?
Here’s my thought: if you deny your truth, you lose light of the spirit of the holiday season. You give away your right to feel as you do, dishonouring your true self, your grief, your disappointment, your loss, your shadow, your blue holiday. Instead, by owning your holiday blues, you live your truth, you share your authentic self, you honour your aches…and very gradually you celebrate your gratitude for what you miss, what you loved, what you have, who you are. By raising a glass to what overshadows your holiday, you give it its rightful place in your life – one of being treasured.
Please know…you are not alone – you are loved!
(C) 2011 Whitney McMillan
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Whitney McMillan is a best-selling author, life & business coach, workshop facilitator, & motivational speaker who supports people weighed down by overwhelm to reach Overwhelm Freedom! Check out her book ‘Rock Your Overwhelm: Live in Clarity, Balance and Freedom’ and receive her FREE eWorkbook and eZine tips: www.whitneymcmillan.com