Friday, December 30, 2016

The Highs and Lows of Christmas

If you are reading this, then it means you survived and got through Christmas 2016. It may not sound like a big thing however if you struggle with all that comes with the Christmas season then this is a huge feat! Give yourself a pat on the back- you deserve it! Surviving each year is a milestone which should never be brushed off nor forgotten.

By now, most of the world has celebrated Christmas with the exception of the people who celebrate Old Christmas Day. The hustle and bustle has died down and the stores are looking a bit more normal than leading up to the big day. The Christmas stuff has gone on discount as they move in the Valentines day merchandise.

People are starting to put away their gifts from under the tree and slowly un-decorate their house. The gifts have long been unwrapped and the paper in the garbage. The turkey has been cooked and by now many are getting tired of the leftovers that have been consumed every day since. Soon, it will be time to ring in the New Year and start off 2017 with much hope and anticipation for a better year ahead.

I have struggled with celebrating Christmas for a very long time. I would rather avoid it then celebrate it. But, this year I figured if I cannot beat it then I can at least embrace it a bit more to see if it may make a difference in how I viewed the holiday.  Christmas was going to come, whether I wanted it to or not! So, I tried something new. Instead of calling it Crapmas like I have for several years, I told myself that if I was going to call it anything it would be positive. I started to ease myself into listening to Christmas music after the Christmas parade was held in my town. I dug out my Christmas coloring book and started to color pictures leading up to the event. Also, I painted a Christmas window display downtown and I tried to craft many gifts for people. My house was decorated in anticipating for my mother coming to visit just before Christmas and I had handed out my Christmas cards in hopes to spread Christmas cheer around- for the receiver and the giver. Christmas Eve I made sure to attend a church service to remember the reason we celebrate. I made sure to not over extend myself and do what I felt would be best for my mental health. I enjoy my own company and that of my cat's so it was nice to spend Christmas quiet at home. I even spaced out opening gifts so I could open them over a few days rather then open them all and they are done. I did everything right this year that I could control I believe because with all that I did, I actually felt better about the holiday season and embraced it a bit more from other years.

But no matter how much you want to, there are some things that are just going to happen that you cannot control. You can try to control what you are able to and this helps greatly. Sometimes things are out of your control which makes it hard to find any positive in the moment. Changing the way you look at something greatly helps during a trial in your life. You may not be able to control the situation but you can choose how you think and respond to it.

Just when I was confident Christmas was going to be OK for me, I got word that my grandmother's cancer had returned. She had cancer in the past and they did all that they could to treat her. The doctor's goal now was to make her comfortable in her final days. It was only a week and a half from the time she got the news until the time she died. My fears came true when she died on Christmas Eve- one of the hardest times of the year to lose a loved one. So, although I was OK with Christmas coming, grief had popped up for me to deal with which made it hard to feel happy to celebrate the season the way I had planned. But, I look at it as that she is no longer in pain which means a lot to know this. So, I attempt to find any positive possible just to get through the next while. I may not have been able to control when my grandmother died but I can control how I think and process it.

So, although I struggle with grief right now, I still will look to the coming year with much hope and anticipation for 2017. There really is power in positive thinking. It gets tiring sometimes to constantly re-frame your thoughts but in the end it does pay off when you are looking to bounce back from a difficult time in your life. So, may your new year be filled with lots of great opportunities to make a different in your own life as well as in the lives of others.

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