I know I'm not alone when I say that the holidays are a tough time for many. They may be for different reasons but I can be confident that most are dealing the loss of a family member. As we age, it is only natural for that number to grow.
Knowing that this holiday would be especially sad for me, I set out to prepare myself by facing my feelings head on and acknowledging them early. A few weeks back when I was in the gift shop at the hospital, I can't remember what I was looking for, but when "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" came on overhead I stopped dead in my tracks. People around me were talking, one person was angry about something...it seemed all my senses were heightened and I thought to myself "why is that person so angry about something so small". And then they were gone. I was left still not moving but listening to the words of the song I've heard a million times.
From now on, our troubles will be miles away
Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now
My mind immediately went to past Christmases. Every year when we decorate our tree, Craig will hoist one of the girls up so they could place the angel tree topper on top of the tree. It's a big deal and the tree is not complete without this ritual. So when the words "hang a shining star upon the highest bough" rang through the shop, I couldn't hold back the tears anymore. I was caught up in how grateful I was to have my husband and daughters in my life. I thought about my dad who will have been gone 8 years on Thanksgiving day. I miss his comments and silly jokes. I miss conversations with him. Every holiday big or small, my mom would celebrate the day with my family. But this year her chair will be empty. Although we had our differences, I still loved her. And when my daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma, interestingly I missed being able to reach out to my mom. Even though we didn't see eye to eye sometimes, she was always very supportive when it came to things like this. I thought about my brother who isn't doing well and if he will be here for Christmas. And I couldn't help but feel the overwhelming sadness and the reason why I was even in a hospital gift shop to begin with.
Fast forward to yesterday. We decided to have Thanksgiving today because we couldn't all be together. I pushed through the day yesterday keeping busy. My husband and daughter made the plans. We would go to Frankenmuth to one of their breweries to watch the game and have a few beers. The food wasn't that great but the beer and conversations were. I love the little town of Frankenmuth. So many great memories with my kids. Although I was sad that we couldn't all be together yesterday, I realized that not dwelling on it made all the difference. It's okay to have a bad day. Just don't unpack and set up house. And by all means, reach out to a close friend when feeling down. I am grateful for all my wonderful friends. And it always seems like one of my friends will reach out to me in a text or message just when I need support the most. Thank you Marie, Gail and Reeta for knowing what to say to make me feel loved.
It is so important to acknowledge your feelings and give them the attention they need. I find that meditating or doing something with my hands like coloring, or even wiping down the kitchen counters helps tremendously with stress and feeling a sense of calm. If you don't acknowledge your feelings, then you are setting yourself up for extreme sadness and health issues. Yes, our mind and body are one. Treat them both with love and kindness and you will reap the rewards of a healthy body and mind. And speaking of kindness, please remember that there are people walking amongst us that may be battling their own problems, issues, or sadness. Don't judge. Don't get angry. You don't know what battle they are facing. When I find myself being inpatient with someone, I will smile at them and usually I will get a smile back. That my friends will do your mind, body and soul good.
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