The holidays are coming; in fact, they’re just about upon us.
For so many, this is anything but good news:
Memories of pain, sorrow and dread fill our minds, from the parent who was too drunk to take part in festivities to the one who acted in rage and violence…or violation; presents that never appeared under the Christmas tree because…
Disappointment, pain, grief and anger color every attempt at celebration.
I have a challenge for you: Set fresh expectations and do something completely new this year: Something that brings out the best in your life. If doing the traditional family thing feels more like a charade than authenticity, go in a different direction, such as helping at a shelter, singing in a choir, planning an outing…
Perhaps you will choose to have family gather. Do that differently as well. Instead of being the one to cook the whole meal, have everyone bring a favorite hors d’oeuvre or part of the meal.
Most important, ponder the importance and meaning of a holiday for yourself; then make your celebration fit. There is absolutely nothing, written, spoken or implied, that says you have to do what your parents did.
Thanksgiving is first: What are you grateful for? How might you celebrate that?
Then comes Chanukah – the feast of lights. How have you been sustained in hard times? How would your gratitude and story be expressed most clearly?
Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth is all about new beginnings: God’s Son arrived in a dark, hurting world. How has he come into your life? What new approach would demonstrate your new ways best?
Then there is New Year’s Day. For many. that means drinking and partying the night before; for others, it’s football; still others take time to reflect on the year that has just ended and make resolutions. I myself don’t put a whole lot of importance on this day. If I mark it at all, it is as The Feast of the Holy Name – very liturgical, I know. Personally, I like Epiphany, which is January 6. IT is the celebration of Jesus as the light to the whole world – that means ussins!
I still explore and try new things during the holiday season. The most important reason is, I’m still healing, growing and changing. Things that might have worked a few years ago simply don’t fit now. I find that experimentation and discovery fit me best.