The other morning I received a call from one of my dearest friends. It’s hard to believe we met over 16 years ago when our flight was canceled and we were both stranded in airport limbo. Incidentally, we were eight years old at the time! Okay, or eight times something. She is one of those people that I know was meant to be in my life. Life and distance can make it hard to stay in touch on a regular basis, but we always pick up as if we spoke the week before. One of the many things I value about her is that she is a straight shooter and her insights and advice, like it or not, are always right on the mark. Out of all my friends, who I love dearly, she and I will always have a special bond.
She is a busy lady and yet she still makes the time to check in on her friends. She will not admit to this, but she is solid as a rock. I think her husband would agree with me. She had no idea how happy I was to see her name pop up on my phone that morning. It was as if someone told her to pick up the phone and call me. We chatted about her new job and her speaking engagement to a group about parenting special needs children and how to cope at holiday time. (Side note: She has two sons both with different special needs. They are the most adorable, well-adjusted boys you will ever meet). She is a clinical social worker and parent coach who works for a hospital with teens and their families as they try to cope with acute depression, anxiety and some addiction issues.
What she didn’t know when she called was that our conversation was so poignant for me. As if she knew I needed her and she was there. I had a cruddy morning and the night before I heard about a young woman who passed away from ovarian cancer. Another friend’s daughter was very instrumental in raising funds to help her with her battle. She was so young, and I felt heartbroken. It brought back the loss of two dear friends who passed from that dreaded disease. I can’t help but think of their families at this time. When the two of them cross my mind, I tend to remember something silly or funny they did or said and it makes me smile. Then there are times like the other night when the reality of the situation hits hard. It makes me sit back and think about how precious life is and reevaluate how I am living mine.
I relayed this to my friend during our conversation. I feel she has the ability to offer powerful and good advice. In our conversation, she mentioned some people equate the holidays with memories from childhood that help mold their holiday experience. I chimed into to say, that more recent history, good and bad, can also surface during this time of year. It parlayed into a conversation of expectations we put on ourselves and how the holiday season can be tough for a lot of people.
For me, the past six years have been a little rough at the holiday time but it’s nothing I couldn’t and can’t handle. I’m beyond grateful for my good friends and family. Well, most of them. I’m kidding!!! I am so kidding so, please don’t send me angry text messages. Nearly everyone has something in his or her life that is not going according to plan. Welcome to life. Why then do the holidays magnify what’s missing for so many of us instead of what we do have?
I do usually spend the holidays as a single gal, but I don’t necessarily look forward to it. It’s not that I’m not grateful for everything I have or that I don’t love myself. It’s nothing like that. I am, and I do, flaws and all. It’s more of the little things that bug me like going to my enormous, work Christmas party solo and getting invited to parties with couples where I’m the 3rd or 5th wheel. I think that coupled with the fact that my annual 29th birthday is fast approaching, and New Year’s Eve plans for this year are few and far between, stings a little bit. But all in all, I enjoy the gift giving, spending time with my family & friends, the music of the season, the chill in the air, the celebrations, the endless possibilities, and all bells & my mama’s, Italian cookies that go with it.
My mom told me many times that the holidays are just like any other time of the year. However, it seems as though some people add this extra layer of pressure to it. Which I understand especially if you have experienced some major life change or challenge recently. Plus, as we get older some of the magic fades, but it doesn’t have to fade away entirely. For others, it’s the best time of the year: The lights, the festivities, the parties, friends, and family. I would say I fall more into the later category, or I used to fall there. It’s easy to let the holiday blues bring you down if you let it. So don’t let it.
With the help of my dear friend, here are our five pointers on how to cope with the holidays:
1. Set realistic goals for yourself. No one can do it all, it is OKAY to say, “thank you, but I am unable to attend your event this year.”
2. The true meaning of the season is NOT presents. True fact, look it up!
3. Have a ‘quiet’ plan. Yep. Sometimes the smells, noises, and hugs can truly add up to too much of a good thing. Feeling overwhelmed? Step outside.
4. BREATHE, it’s natural, right? Not always! Find a quiet place to focus on your breathing.
5. Things didn’t go as planned? Not to worry, we have it on good authority that the holidays will come again next year!
Thank you Shari for being you. Love you!! xoxo