For the past twenty years, the holidays have been a difficult time of year for me. I know there are many others who feel the same.
On December 20th 2001, my youngest brother died in a car crash. The shadow of that has been long and dark. For the past two decades, Christmas has felt more like something to bear than celebrate.
Reading A Christmas Carol this year has helped me see this in a new light. As we begin to see that the weight of the childhood trauma Scrooge carries is at the heart of his misanthropy, it is a good reminder that trauma and its effects don't have to last forever.
This month I noticed a change in my own feelings about Christmas, so I decided to take a walk today and gather my thoughts. I made the video below on that walk, if you'd care to join me, but the upshot is this: the holidays carry with them an expectation of happiness and joy that some of us can't or don't feel, and it's ok not to feel that way.
But those feelings, like all feelings, won't last forever. When they change, it's important to mark those occasions as well. This week, I noticed that the holiday season didn't feel awful for me this year. I wasn't dreading Christmas like years past.
I'm grateful for that, but I know there are still many people who are suffering especially at this time of year. Like the Grinch, my heart feels like it's cracked open and grown a bit from years of living with pain and grief. I'm trying to use that new heart space to be more compassionate to myself and others, especially around the holidays.
Happy holidays to all of you.
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