I am aware that we are heading towards another Christmas – gosh, they do seem to come around quickly! We get taught that Christmas, along with festivals such as Hanukkah, Eid and Diwali, is a happy celebratory time and for many it will be. There are also many who, for various reasons, won’t be celebrating and I am particularly mindful of these folk as we head towards our holidays.
Festivals and loss
Christmas, like most festive celebrations, can evoke difficult feelings such as loss and can be really tough for those where there’s an aspect of one’s identity that isn’t shared openly or is ridiculed. Family events can be tortuous.
Problematic relationships can get highlighted at these times; it brings home the sadness and pain of broken and/or unresolved difficulties.
Many people experience bereavement around Christmas or other festive times, and it can influence how future Christmases etc pan out. Whilst the rest of the world (seemingly) is gearing up for excitement there are others experiencing excruciating pain. Empty chairs at Christmas are difficult reminders that a loved one is missing, or perhaps a child who never got the opportunity to experience Christmas. There will also be those knowing an empty chair is on the horizon; the impending loss.
It can also be difficult for those in recovery. With so much focus on alcohol, how do people keep themselves safe? The cost-of-living crisis inevitably will make this year tough for many also with people not being able to heat their homes or pay other bills, never mind buying expensive presents. Loneliness and isolation become a feature.
Like most situations and festive occasions, Christmas won’t be all good or all bad. There are likely to be a mix of difficult moments and moments of joy and contentment. How do we fully engage with all our experiences in the moment and how can we better look ourselves where there are moments of difficulty?
Self-care looks like different things to each and every one of us and it can be helpful to remind ourselves up front what brings comfort and have it on standby. Agency is also important. Where situations feel unhelpful, do you have to go, stay as long? Can you find something that brings you joy to do afterwards. Can you find peace within even if you are doing something you’d rather not be doing.
Can you allow yourself to experience the feeling of envy towards what others might have and offer yourself some compassion in return?
However you will be spending your Christmas/Hanukkha/solstice/winter holiday, the team and myself wish you peace and inner calm as we bring 2022 to a close.