With festive lights hanging in every corner, some since Halloween, masks being sold in every (mostly empty) shop while also selling gifts for your loved ones, it's evident that we are confused this season. The lack of holiday party invitations, the increase in time to watch Christmas movies, and the changes in travel all highlight this agonizing tug-of-war we're all playing in. Enjoy the holidays. Also just survive them.
Don’t get me wrong - there are signs of true joy and gladness in this bright and merry season. We love Christmas music some days. We can’t wait to decorate the tree on others. And then, like a light timer switch waiting to turn off, these symbols act as visible and auditory reminders of a life unsatisfied. Of the Christmases we once had that we might never get back. This is not just due to coronavirus. In many instances, it has simply highlighted how a relationship or family unit that used to fulfill us just doesn’t satiate us anymore. It's also felt like unexplained, yet constant, anxiety - a subtle and consistent humming of panic that can’t be understood or minimized. It also feels like dread for nothing in particular.
No matter the year, we’re all filled with longing for the good ol’ days of our youth, the days that time has softened and morphed into memories that never happened the way we remember they did. But acknowledging the reality that maybe the good ol’ days weren’t as good as we concocted them to be doesn’t always make it easier - sometimes it makes the longing even more pronounced.
Sometimes, taking a moment to grieve the reality that the holiday of Christmas - the past and also the present - is not what we need(ed) it to be enables us to embrace this season for what it is: a new one. A fresh holiday. A strange take that might catapult us into something unique but also good and sacred.
How might you make this holiday feel appropriate, honest, and kind to you and those you're spending it with this year?
Does it mean watching more (or less) Christmas movies? Could it look like baking something new? Putting only ugly ornaments on the tree? Making a ginger bread house that intentionally, symbolically, looks like a tumble-down shack? What's a 2020-take on your traditional holiday rituals?
Any movement or change, though good and healing and necessary, is usually painful as well. We hate moving as much as we ache for the courage to do so. So this holiday season, embrace the ambivalence - the sense that we love newness and are also terrified by it, by blessing both parts. Not wanting to get rid of either. And sometimes, by embracing our mixed feelings, we find we can surprisingly enjoy life a little more deeply than before.