We all feel pressure when it comes to the holiday season. Not just the pressure of finding the right gift or making it to the airport on time, but showing up for “The Gathering.”
Get-togethers, or holiday family reunions, can feel like a class reunion. You know how it is when you have a class reunion, you gotta look right, you gotta act right, and appearances and achievements are everything. You have to lose weight or get out the Spanx or the right sweater to cover problem areas. You have to be prepared to answer, “So, what are you doing these days?” without a hint of hesitation, knowing you had a bad year. Questions like, “When are you getting married? Where is your boyfriend?” Yeah, the one you still don’t have.
Your hair has to be perfect. Your outfit has to satisfy your youthfulness while meeting the approval of your aunt and your mother. Yes, they will talk about you... and right in front of you. Not just behind your back.
You also have to perfect your smile to absorb any heavy criticism that others give while acting like they were just joking. You have to brace for the comparison to a cousin, who seems to have it all together. That, while hiding the fact that you have a therapist appointment next week, and your medication is running low. God forbid you had some bad news in the run-up to this gathering, every little detail gets amplified and the deeply personal questions keep coming.
In the midst of all of that nonsense, remember the reason for the season. Do not let what should be your favorite time of the year be reduced to a backbiting high school reunion.
Keep it in your mind and heart, that your older relatives won’t be around forever. With all of their quirks, once they are gone they are gone and you will painfully miss them. Take a moment to watch the little ones run and play. I’m telling you personally, they grow fast.
If you have no family to share the holidays with, find one through volunteering. Find a good place of worship… or hang out with the family of one of your close friends. Take a neighbor up on their offer to pop in for some dry turkey that only tears of joy can moisten.
And, while you celebrate, remember those who never made it this time around. Times are uncertain and precious. Don’t let the season turn into a heartless classless reunion. People are going through some serious stuff these days. Let’s try and help each other get through the best way we know how. Sometimes the season of giving should be more about giving.
So, be thankful this season. Be thankful you made it another year. Be thankful your loved ones made it another year, good or bad. And for those who didn’t, reminisce about good times you shared while they were here.
Life is not guaranteed for anyone. Seasons are numbered for all of us. Don’t let this season get away from you or be stolen by the pettiness of others. Anyone can be thankful in times worthy of rejoicing, but it’s in the difficult times that only love can bring out the best in us.
Ask yourself. How good does a fruit cake taste in times of famine? You guessed it, it’s all about appreciation and being thankful!