For the past few years I have had a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Specifically since we started our nomadic lifestyle. Traditions have always been important – brought a great sense of comfort and seemed the springboard to create more memories. Not having a “sticks and bricks” home, it is really hard to do all the things you do in a house for the holidays. I know that this is a choice we made – and I will admit that this is one of few negatives of this lifestyle. I will admit that I struggle with this time of year mentally.
My growing up years were filled with happy memories of messy, large, happy family and friends gathering to celebrate. I don’t remember the gifts – but I do remember the love that flowed with abandon. I just assumed that our holidays were the way everyone celebrated. Bill came with a different outlook on the holidays, so I had to learn to adjust my expectations. I learned to scale down what our holidays were. Now, being away from family and a house, I feel like holidays have little importance other than the interruption of mail, stores being closed, etc. I am not casting blame – and this is definitely no reflection on Bill – I will completely own “my feelings”. It is my attitude that needs some work and adjustment. I really enjoy our lifestyle and the freedom to explore and move about as we please. My big challenge is to find ways to rekindle my holiday joy (whatever the holiday is).
This experience has given me a lot of insight into those struggling with depression during the holidays (and every day). This year, more than ever, not having the freedom to gather with family and friends due to health concerns, reach out to friends.
I have learned much from spending time alone walking. I have learned that I look forward to talking and listening to others. I want to really pay attention to what they are saying – understanding more than just the words. I want to look into their eyes to see if they are smiling or if their words match what their eyes convey.
I have learned that if you don’t know and respect your own worth, you can not expect others to recognize and respect it either. If you are constantly making yourself a doormat – you can’t be upset when they walk all over that mat.
At the Exchange (Navy department store), there is a lovely young lady that is a cashier. Every other word out of her mouth is “I’m sorry”. I purchased a backpack as a gift, and the exchange went something like this: “I’m sorry, the store policy is that I have to unzip all the zippers and look inside. Is that okay” Me: “Of course, please don’t apologize for a store policy.” Her: “I’m sorry. No ma’am, it’s just that some people get really upset.” Me: “You’re just doing your job – and doing it very well.” Her: “I’m sorry…” and so it went. I have learned that the more you apologize to people, the more that some of them will make you feel you have done something wrong.
I have learned that my “version”/”view”/”perspective” is just that – mine. No one else can tell me what I feel, what I think, what my “reality” is. That is simply their opinion (2-cents worth – and probably not worth that!). When you are able to respect my view, I will respect yours.
Wow – rereading this, and it sure doesn’t sound like Merry Christmas, does it? I remind myself that I do have a choice about how and what I am feeling. I choose to be joyful and grateful for the reason for this holiday season. The birth of new beginnings, the hope of sweet life and growth, the joy of knowing that we were created as unique and wonderful children of God, knowing that love is a gift that each of us a capable of sharing, and peace – knowing that you are enough – just as you are and allowing your soul to be filled with God’s peace.
I think there is a lot of grace in this lesson. Instead of beating myself up for my feelings, I am able to acknowledge them and move forward. It will be a very Merry Christmas, because it will originate from my heart.
My wish for you this Christmas season is that you find comfort and joy in being YOU. Unique and wonderfully created by a loving God – there are no others like you. Remember that He cared enough to send His Son to save us all. Find it in yourself to be worthy (because He already sees you as worthy) of that fantastic and loving gesture!