When Christmas Isn’t So Merry

I didn’t put up any Christmas decorations in the office this year. I really love the coziness of my space and could easily envision it wrapped in holiday lights and decor. But as we turned the calendar into December and I still hadn’t done any decorating, I realized there was probably a reason why.

I don’t need to tell you that Christmas can be complicated for many. From the moment we are born, we are exposed to expectations around what Christmas should be. Cue the songs, the advertisements and movies showering us with the sounds, tastes and images of family, forgiveness, sharing and caring.

And regardless of your religious beliefs, the Christmas season has become synonymous with many traditions that offer opportunities for warmth, connection and giving that isn’t so obvious during other times of the year. The magic of Christmas can be felt in many ways during many the holiday season.

But what about when Christmas just doesn’t feel as merry as it’s supposed to? What if other emotions like grief, anger, frustration, sadness and regret are present and possibly even triggered by all the holiday cheer?

The ability to receive validation for our emotions is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves.

The importance of tending to our emotional selves does not lessen just because it is Christmas. Part of what makes it so difficult for many is that we don’t want to ruin the expectations of a “merry” Christmas for others. So we don’t set boundaries. We suffer in silence. And we wonder what the heck is wrong with us when we don’t feel the joy that we should?

Rather than judging ourselves for not feeling very merry, what if we allowed ourselves a little time to notice those feelings? At this time of the year, it is even more important that we create the space for this to happen. And this will require setting some boundaries, saying no and giving ourselves permission to do what feels right for us.

So this year I am going to keep my office a holiday-free zone where visitors are welcome to bring their Christmas cheer in with them or take a little break from it all. There is no shortage of places to experience the magic of the season but it is sometimes harder to find that necessary space to just be ourselves.