Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Qwanza or simply a secular holiday with Santa Claus, this time of year is full of memories. When we have traditions and events that occur every year, we tend to think back on the previous years when those events happen. I am finally understanding why the holiday season can be difficult for some people year after year.
Gratitude Tip: There is nothing gained about living in the past. All we have is the present. When memories of holidays past come up, take a moment to pay attention to them and allow them to pass. Then do your best to return to the present and see if you are able to find gratitude for this year’s events. If a certain tradition brings only difficult memories, change it! There are so many ways to celebrate this season, find ones that bring you joy instead of sadness or disappointment.
This weekend was full of memories for me, as last year I completely missed everything as I was in the hospital. It was such a joy to be able to attend one of my daughter’s best friends birthday parties on Saturday. And yesterday, we enjoyed a full day of church, followed by a visit to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe for their 3rd anniversary celebration (including a visit with Santa) and the most beautiful weather for the Burlington Santa Claus Parade. I do look at things differently this year, having missed out on them last year. And it’s likely that the memories of my sudden illness will come up every year when we put up the Christmas tree. Thankfully, I am able to find tremendous gratitude in today, as I lived to enjoy another holiday season.
If this time of year brings you sadness due to the loss of a loved one in previous years, take the time to celebrate their life and find joy in the present moments. Perhaps it can be found in spending time with children or grandchildren. Or maybe even creating a new tradition, such as spending the holidays in a warm location. How about reaching out to others who may have no one to celebrate with? There are many seniors who do not have anyone to enjoy the holidays with. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Donate your time to helping those who cannot afford a tree or presents. I promise you that giving to others will help you to find gratitude no matter how difficult this time of year may be.
What are your strategies for dealing with difficult memories during the holidays?