In our last installment, we took a long look at the role expectations play in setting us up for Humbuggery. Expectations are part of a nasty trifecta that make our holiday a lot of emotional work.
The second of that crew is history.
History is a tricky piece of this holiday cocktail. It is hard to overlook the traumas that sometimes become more pointed and sharp on the holidays. It is hard to forget the wounds that others have inflicted on holidays past. It is hard to have a holiday if it just reminds you of something horribly sad. This is why self-care is so important at this time of year.
I am terrible at self-care. I really am. The only time I can figure out what self-care means is when someone far wiser than I asks a question like: “What would you like this week (day/whatever) to look like if you believed that decision was yours alone to make?” And then I say something like: “I would clear my calendar because I am deeply overwhelmed and exhausted and I think I’m getting sick.”
Those three usually go together for me: overwhelmed, exhausted, and getting sick. Why? Because I ignore the first two for so long that the third becomes an inevitable conclusion.
This question was asked of me recently. It was too late. I got sick – and look, it cleared my calendar!
I say all of this to suggest that we are all more likely to be at peace with a difficult day/holiday/family visit/whatever if we are taking good care of ourselves. And in spite of the fact that you’re expecting me to say “that starts with what we eat”, I’m going to say that for me personally, it’s about sleep. When I am well-rested, I am more resilient, I am gentler with myself and others, and I am better able to sit with a sad moment and not have it become my only moment that day.
I don’t know what it means for you. Maybe it means taking a long quiet walk before the gathering. Maybe it means being gentler on yourself about eating more than you should. Maybe it means allowing others to help more than you normally would. Maybe it means simply saying, “I want to enjoy this, but I am having a rough time.”
Our history sometimes requires us to be gentle with ourselves. Surrendering to that urge will not ruin anybody’s year. Really, it won’t. Even if it means you don’t go to that gathering because you need to stay in bed in your pajamas. and read stories with your kids. It is a holiday after all, why can’t it be yours?