Let me start off by sharing a strange realization today....as I sat down to write this post, I noticed I wrote a post exactly 5 years ago.....with similar themes. Strange that the feelings I wrote 5 years ago still exist today....both hopefully a good read and insight to how grieving can effect holiday celebrations.
These days I am feeling a bit like Charlie Brown ~
"I think there must be something wrong with me. Christmas is coming but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel."
Every day this year since the holidays began being blasted in my face, I have had a daily "bah humbug" moment.
I have been trying to ignore it but I just cannot.
It is everywhere - the Christmas lights on my neighbors homes streaming through my windows, holiday tunes playing in every store, bells jingling as I walk into any store - even when I am doing routine errands.
Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-Christmas. I love the lights. I love the decorations. I love the music. I love the cheesy movies. I love the preparation. I love the baking.
Just not this year.
The past two years I have become a bit of a hermit. I have stopped running, only occasionally cycling, and pretty much have discontinued social activities.
I think it has always been there.....this incredibly social personality of mine struggling to hide....the expectations of society for social interaction. I get it. Being social and active does a person good. There is no doubt in my mind - which is why I have always been social and active.
But with that comes a tipping point.....and I hit mine a few years ago.
Becoming a bit of a hermit actually is a bit of a relief at times. Although it comes with its share of loneliness, the exhaustion that comes with being "up" and pretending all is wonderful, is overwhelming when you are just not feeling it.
And honestly, I am still grieving.
Grieving? Really Barb?
The grieving NEVER goes away. It subsides but it is always there...waiting...the ache of missing the life you planned....the heartbreak of losing the love of your life....the doing everything alone....the celebrating your childrens accomplishments alone. It isn't easy to move forward. It isn't easy to live life alone without the one you promised to love until death do you part. Unfortunately, that promise doesn't take into account the other half of the equation left behind. Is it terrible that sometimes I think I got the short end of the stick....that the grieving and loneliness is far more difficult?
What's my point with all of this?
It is not to gain pity from anyone - absolutely the opposite! Pity only makes it worse.
It is to make friends, family and complete strangers aware that the joy of the holidays can be very joyless to many. That putting up a tree, wrapping presents, baking cookies, shopping, etc. takes an emotional toll on many - because putting on a "show" for the holidays is exhausting - even when you aren't struggling with the loneliness of it all.
December 26 is always a very welcome date to me.
I decided to write this blog today because I find the act of sharing these feelings to be personally cathartic, an elephant off my shoulders.....and hopefully, open others eyes to think differently about how others act during the holidays. Some of us just don't enjoy it nearly as much and you really cannot escape the Christmas spirit - it is everywhere! The holidays can feel like a chore instead of the celebration it should be.
My tree is up. Cookies are baking, Wreath on the front door. Shopping complete. Christmas dinner menu in the works.
Check, check, check, check.....all with a heavy heart and no joy.
I have tried very hard to not allow my holiday blues effect my childrens' holiday experiences. I am sure I have not always been successful and for that, and all the other difficulties they have had to encounter because of the unfortunate life circumstances they were dealt, I worry and carry a lot of mom guilt.
My ask of all of you?
Take a moment to extend a simple smile, a kind word or another simple random act of kindness to those around you - yes even those that appear to be in great spirits.
Nothing extravagant....just spread a little more kindness this season....you never know how much it may be appreciated.
May you all have some level of love, laughter and happiness surrounding you today, tomorrow and everyday.