Highlights for Finding Holiday Balance
- The good things from this tough year (0:30)
- Holding the goodness and the grief (1:25)
- Sacrifice, staying safe, being angry, and being tired (4:15)
- How to keep our balance during the holidays (6:40)
- The 3:1 ratio and the goodness around me (7:25)
- May we all be deLIGHTed this holiday 😉 (12:05)
Finding Holiday Balance
This has been a YEAR! But who am I telling? You know how tough and frustrating it’s been. But there’s also a lot of good things to come out of this year…
The Good Things from this Tough Year
In spending so much time at home, I got more organized, and I purged a lot of stuff … and now that it’s over, I’ve got to start all over again! LOL
I also spent a lot of time journaling and discovering things about myself, and I am much more in tune with my body than ever before. I was forced to let go of being so busy and had to learn to just BE – that one is still a challenge for me, but I’m working on it! And I actually really like spending time with my husband, Dan. I feel like we are stronger and more aligned than ever before.
Now, as we roll into Christmas week and New Year’s, things will be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in our lives.
Holding the Goodness and the Grief
The distance, fear, and uncertainty we’ve dealt with this year are still with us. We’re all tired and ready for things to return to some kind of new normal … but we’re not there quite yet.
It can be hard to hold goodness and grief at the same time, and I do think we are all grieving in some way or another.
Not just grieving in the traditional sense of losing a loved one (although a lot of us are holding that grief as well) but the loss of normalcy. We are grieving connection, and we need it now more than ever.
I want to help you find balance as I’m finding mine … maybe it’s pivoting with possibility rather than being weighed down by what we don’t have.
I don’t want to get stuck in the sadness or overwhelm, but I have to acknowledge it. I also don’t want to be Pollyanna and only see the good in everything – that’s not realistic. I’m practicing balance, and I thought I’d share my practice with you.
Am I sad? Hell yes!!! I cried more in 2020 than any other year of my life … and that includes the year of my breakup from hell, and the year both my grandmothers died, when I cried for months!
It’s okay to cry. Crying is a good way to release the pent-up energy in your body.
I always feel so much better after a good cry, and I’ve been having all the feels … there are days where my emotions are up and down like a roller coaster.
We’re all missing a lot of things this year, but somehow the holidays seem to make the grief feel deeper.
I’m missing my family. I miss hugging them. (Well, some of them, because some don’t like hugs, and that’s okay.)
I miss our annual trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, when we make gingerbread houses, go to Christmas Town, and sit around and laugh. I miss making Christmas cookies with my sister and nephews.
I’ll be missing our Christmas Eve dinner and the Christmas breakfast that I make every year. I will still make them, but I won’t be able to sit around and enjoy it with my family. I will miss New Year’s Eve celebrations, too.
This year, it’ll just be me and Dan … which is fine. I’m so lucky to have him, and there’s no one else I’d want to be isolating with.
Sacrifice, Staying Safe, Being Angry, and Being Tired
I’m making those choices to keep myself and my family safe. I am willing to sacrifice this year’s traditions and festivities, so we have many more in the future.
We are resilient, and we will make the best of it. We will think of creative ways to share with one another even though we can’t physically be together. I’m trying to keep some of our traditions alive, so I’m pivoting as best as I can.
I am grateful we have Zoom and FaceTime, but they’re not quite the same as real life. Last weekend, we made gingerbread houses with my family on Zoom. It wasn’t the way I wanted it to be, but it was better than not doing it at all.
My point is that we can be sad, angry, frustrated, and grateful … maybe all at the same time, maybe not. But they all exist within me, and they are in heavy rotation!!!!
As I sat down to write this, I’m angry that people won’t listen to the experts, so we can stop the spread of this deadly virus – just wear a damn mask! I’m angry that people are denying this is a real issue, that people are getting sick and dying!
I’m irritated with people who are invalidating the fear, caution, and grief that so many people are experiencing. And I’m frustrated with people because they are over it. We’re all tired, but just because I’m tired of the protocols doesn’t mean I can just throw my hands up in the air and plan a party like people are doing!
I’m sad that people are risking everyone’s health by not being responsible.
I want to see my family! I want to hug them! I want to have family dinners and go into their houses without worrying that one of us could die.
As Dr. Fauci said, “I don’t know how to make people care about other people.”
And yet, there’s still so much beauty and goodness that is all around me.
How to Keep Our Balance During the Holidays
So, I balance all of my feelings – light and heavy – as best I can. I don’t fight or ignore any of the emotions, that only creates bigger problems.
I allow the sadness to come, and I sit and cry. I acknowledge the anger and sit with it until it dissipates. I talk to the fear like I would a little child … I invite it to sit next to me and let it all out.
I can’t stay in happiness or denial all the time. That’s not authentic, and I’m nothing if not authentic! 😀
Sometimes it’s a struggle to find balance. I am actively working on it, and here’s one of the ways I’m doing it…
The 3:1 Ratio and the Goodness Around Me
The 3-to-1 Ratio means that it takes 3 positive experiences to offset one negative experience, according to Dr. Barbara Frederickson’s research from the University of North Carolina.
She says that if we can experience three positive emotional experiences for each negative experience, we can lift ourselves up. She also says—
“Positivity doesn’t mean we should follow the axioms Grin and bear it or Don’t worry, be happy. Those are simply superficial wishes. Positivity runs deeper. It consists of the whole range of positive emotions — from appreciation to love, from amusement to joy, from hope to gratitude, and then some.”
In an effort to experience positivity, here’s some of the goodness around me right now…
Christmas lights – Dan and I decided to put Christmas lights on our house for the first time in about 10 years. Last year I gave all of our lights, extension cords, and timers to my brother because we never used them! So, I went out and bought more … and I’m so glad I did.
Not only was it fun to plan our lights, but Dan and I did it all together. I also appreciate how much work goes into putting the lights out, so when we’re driving around our neighborhood, I am in awe of some of the displays.
Christmas tree – Again, we didn’t even put up our tree last year. I wasn’t in the mood, so we put out a little LED tree that reminds me of my grandma, and that was it.
This year, I savored each ornament that I hung and really embraced the memory of who gave me the ornament. Now, when I sit and look at the tree, it’s taken on some additional meaning to me … it’s one I can’t really put words to now, but it feels special.
Christmas cards – I almost didn’t send Christmas cards this year, but Dan said if there was ever a year that people needed some goodness in the mail, this is the year, and he was right. I love getting cards in the mail. Seeing the pictures of everyone’s kids and pets is fantastic. It really brings me joy!
Fire pits – This is the year of fire pits. Not only did I get one but my sister got a portable wood-burning fire pit, and we gather on her driveway. It’s a great way to visit with people, keep a social distance, stay warm, and stay connected. It’s been one of the best things to have this time of year.
Snuggly blankets – Nothing beats a good blanket. Over the last few years, I’ve made some no-sew fleece blankets for my niece, nephews, friends, family, and Dan and myself. They are the best!
I curl up on the sofa in my snuggly blanket to watch TV or a Christmas movie or just to look at the tree. It’s magic for my heart. Not only are they easy to make, but creating them and gifting them makes me so happy!
Christmas music – It puts me in the mood for Christmas, but it also reminds me of Christmases of the past … memories with my grandmas and so much more.
You can find blessings anywhere if you look for them. Here are some other ideas for positive emotional experiences –
- Read a great book
- Talk to a friend
- Connect with people in person (just make sure it’s outside, socially distanced, and masked).
- Go for a ride to look at the holiday lights
- Make latkes or other family favorite recipes
- Create a new tradition
Seek out the joy!
May We All Be DeLIGHTed This Holiday 😉
In my area, so many people have put up lights this year! I like to think of it as people spreading joy for strangers. I don’t always participate in putting out the lights, but I did this year, so I appreciate the effort people put forth even more.
This holiday season, do anything that will bring you joy! It isn’t about having gifts, it’s about finding joy, happiness, and peace without them.
Especially this year, we are being given the gift of time. How will you use it?
I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and the happiest of New Year’s!