I am holiday craaaaaazay this year, y’all. The holiday spirit has OVERTAKEN me! I’m in full CHEER mode! But holidays can bring mixed feelings for us all. Holidays are a time for joy, but also grief.
The madness started with shopping for Christmas throw pillows & decor for our mantel and brainstorming about our tree theme this year. I was caught singing along to Christmas music shopping with Dot. Like, belting it out! But it’s ok, I was singing to my baby. People forgive mama’s of young children for singing in stores (hehehe). The Santa parade brought me to TEARS this year – the families surrounding us with their small children, everyone embracing the holiday spirit. It moved me.
I couldn’t help but ask myself – why so excited about Christmas this year, Amanda?
It hit me; there are multiple reasons why this year feels different. Then I cried.
Last Christmas was our first Christmas without my dad. It was also our first Christmas with our daughter Dottie. So many mixed emotions, as you can imagine.
My dad was JUST released from the hospital in time to come home for Christmas. He was back into the hospital shortly thereafter… passing away that February. My husband JW and I were able to give my parents the ultimate gift Christmas 2015 – the news that we were expecting. It was early in the pregnancy, but we needed to share the happy news as it was sad times. We needed a reason to celebrate. Dad got to have two full months of being THRILLED he was going to be a grandfather. Man, he would have adored her.
JW really wanted to escape Christmas and go away. He had his own holiday baggage. We went to Bonaire, a desert island in the Carribean. My step-son Jack came as well. I learned to scuba dive on this trip, which was life-changing. Christmas day, JW and I went for a dive and he surprised me with a shipwreck. It was truly magical. While all of this was amazing, I missed my family. I missed our holiday traditions. As silly as it sounds, at one point I was crying behind my sunglasses on the beach, mojito in hand (first world problems, y’all.)
Each of these past Christmas’ has something in common. There was JOY, but there was also deep SADNESS. The holidays are tough. They give us ALL the feels. It’s incredibly hard to embrace all of our emotions, move on, and not dwell.
This Christmas, my mother is coming to stay with us in Halifax! I’m SO excited to not have to divide our family time between Halifax (JW’s children) and Fredericton (my family). I’ll miss seeing my extended family this year, but Dottie gets to relax Christmas Day in her home. We’ll begin our own family traditions. Dot is starting to notice and soak in the holiday cheer around her, but is also the giver of such JOY.
The holidays are complicated
Each of us will experience a form of grief these holidays – missing someone who has passed away, being far from home OR family/friends who far from home, family conflicts or hurt feelings, worry that you aren’t providing the Christmas of your children’s dreams, and perhaps you are carrying old wounds from your childhood or pain from Christmas’s past.
Take care this Holiday Season – Embrace your holiday feels
- Go big if you need to!
- Go small, scale back if that’s what you need!
- Allow yourself to FEEL – try not to judge yourself for feeling sad, but also allow yourself joy without guilt. Cry if you need to, Laugh loud and hard as well.
- Focus on the kids – they bring such glee this time of year.
- Volunteer/Give to others – spend time with those who may be hurting or lonely this time of year, spread joy in small or big ways.
- Honor those you are missing – remember them, speak of them, include them in your traditions and festivities in your own way.
- Take care of yourself – eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, avoid overconsumption of alcohol/substances.
- Reach out to family and friends. If things get really dark, ask for help.
For those in Nova Scotia, here are resource numbers.
NSHA Mental Health and Addictions emergency contact numbers
Mental Health Crisis Line
Available 24 hours, seven days a week
Kids Help Phone
Available 24 hours, seven days a week
Or call 911 or go to your closest emergency department.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM OUR HOUSEHOLD TO YOURS
WHAT JOY AND SADNESS WILL THIS HOLIDAY SEASON BRING YOUR WAY?
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER.
Amanda Rae xo