By Debra Rimmer, LCSW, Clinical Therapist, Coordinator, Senior Friendly Visitor Program
The holiday season evokes a frothy mixture of feelings and emotions.
With the cooler air, early darkness, and falling leaves, some have memories and expectations for fun, food, celebration, and times with family/friends.
And the stress, oh-the-stress.
Not surprising, the holidays aren't for everyone. Many people don't connect with the traditional holiday merriment and festivity; instead, they find the holidays (and the people in their lives) isolating, challenging and painful.
Others have experienced a significant loss and are grieving the loss during the holiday season without their loved one. They're just “not feeling it” and want to hibernate - away from celebrating. In the Covid19 era, our losses are magnified - we remember how things were, yearning for “the way things were”.
A New Opportunity?
Perhaps we can transport ourselves back to an earlier time when life was less complicated. We didn't need to be plugged in to constant communication. Children could go outdoors, breathe fresh air and be with friends. Neighbors became family and tried not to leave anyone out.
Blend the old with the new. Incorporate the lessons from the past - give meaning to holiday time for an authentic and emotionally-rewarding experience.
Ideas for Holiday Enjoyment and Taking Control
If you're celebrating this holiday season, how can you find meaning when many things feel beyond our control? Remember: the virus cannot steal your spirit or intention!
Plan in advance how you want to spend your time and with whom.
If you feel pain or other emotions. Allow yourself the time and space to feel your feelings. Don't let anyone tell you how you “should feel”.
Be patient with yourself as you go through this challenging time.
Consider getting some support for yourself during this time. The JFS weekly “Rest and Relax group” nurtures friendship, safety and comfort. The JFS Counselling Program has a dedicated group of therapists - available to support you during this difficult time.
Create new, memorable traditions.
Think about having / going to smaller gatherings with your mask on; or simply gather around a campfire with cider and cinnamon sticks.
Tickle your creativity bone.
Use your creativity to make meaningful decorations, and even gifts. Plan an event or gathering that will be a stable, stress-free time with a few friends, special relatives or just for yourself. Imagine getting into your most cozy socks and PJs, snuggling up to a good book, fun tunes and favorite holiday-scented candles?
Send family/friends meaningful books - that you can talk about.
- Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith: a True Story of the Faith Club; a Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - three women search for understanding.
- The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams
- The story of Hanukkah, David Adler
- The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg
- The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Patricia Polacco
Plan a Zoom event or a holiday cooking day, poetry reading, or craft gathering. Make candles, seasonal wreaths or bird feeders. Don't stop there - offer donations on behalf of a charity or group or have a backyard solstice, listen to festive music that is joyful, uplifting and comforting. Play music with a few friends. Invite people to put together care packages for others. Have a pet food drive and donate the proceeds to your local humane society.
Let's find and appreciate simple joys. Perhaps this is truly the ‘light’ many of us are yearning for.