It is December and I feel my dread of writing yet one more holiday blog. I feel the conflict inside myself between that dread and my desire to write something of value; something that will help all of us have a better holiday season. Then it hits me – that's what I should write about this year. After all, I think my attitude reflects what many of us feel about the holidays.
The countdown to Christmas began after Halloween and we are well on the way to December 25th. The holidays will come no matter how we feel about them, what religion we follow, what nationality we are. For some, Christmas is the best time of the year, and for others it is a non-event. Then there are those for whom it is an insult, or a nightmare of bad memories and flashbacks. Regardless of your experience, the holidays will arrive, so rather than fight them, why not find a new way to see them.
In recent years, I have become friends with many small business owners. In doing so, they have taught me the necessity of the Christmas season for the survival of their businesses. It does not make them happy that the majority of their sales happen in November and December. For many a bad holiday season can make or break their business. Knowing these people has changed my attitude about the commercial aspect of the season.
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today..”
Coping with the holiday season seems to lead me to this passage from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that reminds us of the importance of accepting life on life's terms and not our own. The big problem with acceptance is that it is easier said than done.
The first step acceptance. No matter how much you dread, hate, or resist the holidays, they are here.
The second step is to quit fighting it. Yes, those are two separate steps. It is astonishing how much pain and misery fighting can cause us. There are times we need to fight for ourselves, our beliefs and all that we value, but this is a different kind of fight. The former is a fight where you can make progress and bring about change. Fighting the inevitable will bring nothing but heartache, misery, and exhaustion. We cannot change the unchangeable.
The third step is to determine what you can change. So you hate the decorations and crowds related to the holidays. All that your hate will accomplish will be to make you miserable. You can't always change your feelings but you can have a conversation with yourself and remember that January will soon be here. The decorations will come down, and the crowds will flock to the gyms to start their New Year's resolutions.
The fourth step is to find a way to give. The best antidote to dread is to give. I believe that giving is a basic human need. It does not need to be a physical item, either. A smile or a friendly greeting cost nothing, and sometimes do the most good in the moment. During the holiday season there are many people who are in need. After all – the people working retail may like the holiday about as much as you do. A kindness to those who are dealing with those holiday crowds maybe the best moment of their day.
The holidays may not be your favorite time of the year. They may not evoke memories that look like a Norman Rockwell painting, with their images of family togetherness. Learning to accept those feelings and choosing to act differently can change your holiday season. And the best part of it all? January is right around the corner, like the rising sun after an all-nighter. This to shall pass.