The more I zoom out of my own problems amidst this year’s holiday season the more I recognize the importance of awareness of other’s situations and compassion for all during this time. Though I know it’s late into the month, I decided to set some intentions for the remainder of the holidays that have the aim of removing some of the weight off my own shoulders and also (hopefully) sharing a little bit of light with others.
Though I have had my own difficulties and disappointments within the context of the pandemic, it is quite obvious to me that my position is still that of great privilege. I observe the increased heaviness I feel this year from that place of privilege and I think of how much heavier the load must be for people who have not been so lucky in 2020, and the perhaps tipping point weight that those who have always struggled during the holidays are bearing this year. We are all only human, and we can all only carry so much.
Just a note, I am no more educated or qualified than anyone else to give advice on how to handle the emotional difficulties of this year, so know that I am not trying to give advice. Each person, each family, each city, each country and each ‘each’ that I haven’t thought of holds it’s own intricate nuance that I will not even attempt to be able to account for in one post. Like I said, these are simply intentions I’ve set for myself.
1. Resist the urge to post – feed the present joy. Now more than ever, I want to check in with myself about whether or not I really want to post something. A lot of people’s holidays will be spent under different circumstances than they’re used to. Whether that means spending the holidays alone, missing certain special people, not being able to afford certain traditions or norms, mourning the loss of a loved one or just being too exhausted from a long year to do pull it together to bake Christmas cookies. My Christmas will also be quite different this year, and I kind of just don’t want to make anyone feel shitty about their situation by sharing my Christmas highlight reel. For me, it just doesn’t feel great to share much online this year. I also really want to be present and enjoy the simplicity of this Christmas, rather than trying to make it amazing and then sharing that ‘amazingness’.
2. Enforce boundaries. For myself, this meant having a conversation with my family about not exchanging gifts and saying no to certain social gatherings that didn’t fit within the restrictions that myself and the people in my bubble had decided to adhere to. I also want to enforce my mental boundaries, and by that I mean staying vigilant with what I allow myself to consume and logging off when I feel myself getting anxious or stuck in the comparison game.
3. Act with understanding. Working in the service industry during a pandemic has left me subject to a flurry of unwarranted opinions being hurled at me almost on the daily and to be honest, it has made me really not want to engage with strangers when I’m not at work. Lately, I find myself not making much eye contact, not engaging with anyone beyond what would be considered common courtesies and getting irritated with people in public settings and well, I don’t love that for me. So I’m trying to check myself by saying hello, smiling with my eyes and making space for people in the crowded store aisles – even if they are walking the wrong direction. The world is sticky and messy and clunky and confusing right now and we’re all probably more on edge than normal. I am a big believer in putting good energy out into the world and I think nowadays, a little goes a long way.
4. Check in with others. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way but this year has put and kept me in my head more than I would like. Of course we need to tend to our own problems, but it’s so important to also get out of our own head and check in with the heads of the people we care about. Well, check in with them as a whole person ok? Enough jokes, I know I know. I’m not saying you need to carry the feelings of everyone around you in addition to your own, but the carrying does become a bit easier when we all share the load. Let me tell you, sometimes it just feels good to hear someone’s thoughts other than your own. And sometimes that’s exactly what your loved one needed too.
5. Acknowledge that a more ‘bare’ holiday season does not mean a less good holiday season. Whether you’re a certified homebody or a certified bar star, there’s probably something that you’re having to give up this year. Not being able to go to an (overpriced, overrated) party at a swanky bar on New Year’s Eve does not make you any less glamorous. Not being able to invite your closest friends over to try all the baking you’ve done because you never leave the house anymore does not make your baking any less sweet. This Christmas, I am reminding myself of what I actually think makes Christmas special; a bit of wine, some different food from the usual rotation and spending time with the people whom I love (and annoy) the most. And maybe a festive movie or two. Now because I know that atmosphere (aka decorations) can be a big provoker of holiday spirit, I will offer my suggestions on how to do so minimally and affordably. Personally, I picked up some dollar store Christmas lights and some white paper to make snowflakes (yes, like we all did when we were kids) and I couldn’t feel more festive.
That’s it from me folks. I hope you have a safe, simple, restful holiday season. Go easy on yourself, love the ones your with and remember that we’re all just doing the best we can.