I've been very vocal about "focusing on creating the new" instead of looking back on what was. I tend to fall into this trap where I cling on to previous Christmases, longing for them to be same as this year, when life changes, people change, and circumstances change.
Last year, I NEVER would have expected in a gazillion years that I'd be in downtown Montreal, working, communiting, MARRIED (last year I was seperated), MARRIED HAPPILY (finally), with a husband that works in Cuba...oh the differences are too many to list.
But still, I think back to my extended family all over Canada (and in the Emirates) and sometimes I get a little teary. Also, my step-daughters have friends and another family of their own, and I don't get to spend as much time with them as I'd like.
So I decided to do what I do best, and search Google for some helpful hints. Last Christmas was an extremely emotional one for me, and I'm not prepared to spend half of my holidays (I have a 12 day break from work) upset.
Here's something I came across that I really liked and thought it was worth mentionning.
Embrace the "NO": Be gentle on yourself, and give yourself permission to say "No"… It really is okay to take special time for yourself. If the holidays have you feeling down for whatever reason, indulge in the things that make you feel happy, whether they're holiday related or not.
Banish the "shoulds": If a certain tradition causes more stress and discomfort than joy, give yourself permission to do things differently! Remind yourself that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Thanksgiving (or Christmas). Ban the word "should."
Cut goals down to size: Regain a sense of control by scheduling no more than one or two manageable goals per day, even if they're as simple as writing a few cards or cleaning a small section of a room. The satisfaction of completing these tasks can add to your sense of well-being and help you get everything done, over a longer period of time.
Seek out positivity: Seek out positive people who make you feel better, and avoid people who add to your stress or contribute to your depression.
Divorce the Jones': Focus on what you and your family want to do for the holidays instead of what other families are doing, and prioritize your time accordingly. In a similar vein, make a concerted effort to realign the focus of the holiday to reflect your spiritual or ethical beliefs rather than commercial values. You may need to discuss how you and your family will do this, as it can take many forms depending on your beliefs.
This Christmas, shop smarter, not harder: Take advantage of online shopping instead of rushing through malls. If you've got more time than money, make homemade gifts, or give gifts of service instead.
Ask for help: If the thought of cooking Thanksgiving dinner gives you a headache, arrange to have friends and family over to help you cook ahead of time or hold a potluck dinner instead.
Lower the bar of expectations. Sometimes, it's your expectations that are the cause of holiday frustration and disappointment. To avoid this pitfall, try setting realistic expectations for how people will behave, how the food will taste, and how everything will look. Simply allowing the holiday to transpire without any real expectations, focusing instead on maintaining a positive and grateful attitude, may be the answer you've been looking for.
Celebrate the memory of loved ones who have passed. Ignoring the void a certain loved one has left may worsen feelings of grief. Instead, try to incorporate the good memories into your celebration.
For anyone else like me, who is going through a bit of ups and downs around Christmas, I hope this helps. ;)