Holiday season rushes at us. Old memories surface and vague uneasiness comes.
For those who have lost a spouse or child, these memories can become almost unbearable and depression rules every moment.
The word family evokes different things in different people. A Norman Rockwell-like picture of a loving family often is our frame of reference. The people in the painting scurry around to fix and then eat a gargantuan meal with all the fixings, and everyone is smiling at each other and there is no tension. These mind pictures can cloud our thoughts with unrealistic expectations of ourselves and other family members.
These pictures are ideals; many families do not fit into that mold. Reality paints a much different canvas. Due to our lifestyles, where both partners often work outside the home, exhaustion is more likely to be the most prevalent emotion.
Many families also live far from each other, making it almost impossible to be together for holidays. The cost of traveling, not to mention bad weather, makes it difficult for a lot of people.
At this time especially, dysfunctional behavior in families rears its ugly head. There may be excessive drinking or violence due to added stresses. Others may feel alone and forgotten. Many look back over their lives and find only bitterness and emptiness.
- Take a long, hard look at your reality.
- Accept the fact that your family is not a Norman Rockwell painting.
- Try to find the good in each person, but be honest about the shortcomings, both in yourself and other family members.
- Make other arrangements if you are handicapped and unable to make a big meal or have the entire family over. (In our retirement community, there is a dinner at holiday times for those who cannot prepare it themselves.)
- Toss the idea that everything has to be homemade to be authentic and tasty.
- Keep in mind that it is not necessary to have an enormous meal. Obesity is rampant, even among children. Many have food allergies or other health problems.
- Talk with your family members and let them know how you feel. Tell them you love them, but just cannot celebrate the way everyone wants.
- Realize families will never stay the same. They are constantly changing and adjusting to those changes is a normal part of life.
- Acknowledge that each new person added to the family has his or her own family and they also want to be together. Unfortunately, the time is past when it was just your family and it is essential to let go.
- Recognize the need for young families to form some of their own traditions.
- Remember each person is a gift. Allow him or her freedom.
- Allow God to come into your situation and help you make the best of whatever it turns out to be. He is the only One who can meet your needs--children and extended family cannot.
- Thank Him for giving you courage to make changes and to find the best in each season of life.
The way to true contentment, over the holidays and during the rest of your life, comes through accepting life's changes and not letting preconceived ideas disappoint you.