The holidays are hard for many of us and for many different reasons. Losing loved ones is a huge trigger around the holidays. Decorating and trying to get in the spirit is easier said than done.
The most wonderful time of the year usually isn't for most. It brings up memories and makes the loss deepen knowing they wont be here to celebrate this year. I know that even for myself, decorating is not as fun without my husband who LOVED the holidays and everything leading up to them. It reminds me of all the prior years and how excited he would get to put up his infamous Kong Tree so doing these things is not on my to-do list but I know that he would be disappointed in me if I didn't and the kids need to have some form of normalcy so I carry on and grudgingly do it anyway.
It used to be believed that the suicide rates increase over the holidays but actually they are much higher in the spring than winter months. But depression generally can get a major kick start right about now. Which may explain why they are higher by spring when the collections start.
Money is a huge factor. Everyone who is living paycheck to paycheck suddenly finds themselves knee deep in debt trying to ensure Suzie gets that perfect gift this season. We all claim holiday spirit yet do exactly opposite of what that means. We go in overdrive on spending tying to outdo whatever we purchased for them last year but meanwhile we are still paying off that debt as well.
When did we start to measure holiday cheer by the amount of gifts given? Do I not love someone or love them less because I spent a few less dollars on them this year? Craziness! Yet we all fall victim to it somehow.
The kids know it too! They pile up that Christmas/Holiday wish list with every new toy or electronic out there. Page by page parents sit in dismay of how they can do it this year. Where is the cheer in that? Yet we are also supposed to be excited and decorate too? "I'm broke and have no idea how I'm going to pay this months bills and buy gifts, fa la la la la" Um No!
So why why why do we do it year after year? TV suddenly starts running ads of all the newest and hottest gifts and the kids sit mesmerized while we sit in stress mode until January and then we REALLY get depressed trying to figure out how to pay all those credit cards we rang up to get us through it.
It's a vicious cycle, yet we do it again and again.
If you have younger children, heed my warning. Don't start on this merry go round of stress. Come up with new and creative traditions.
When Christmas holiday was first created they didn't spend every last dime on gifts. Most were personal and handmade presents and maybe some candy treats in the stocking.
Or have a set amount of gifts. This way you both know what to expect out of every holiday season and not break the bank to do it. I always loved when I knew friends who would bring their children to the hospitals or shelters to see the children and they would have to take one of their gifts and give it to someone less fortunate. It teaches them appreciation of what they have and what they receive, big or small and it also teaches them to be appreciative of things like good health. I'm certain any one of those children on the cancer ward would forfeit every Christmas to be well.
We get so caught up in all the wrong things that have nothing to do with the holiday and more to do with simple gluttony. Unless you are a Kardashian, you shouldn't overindulge if it takes away the joy of the season for you.
Don't start adding friends to the list either because then you'll feel obligated next year and it gets out of control. Instead have them over to celebrate. A nice wine night or ugly sweater party and everyone can bring a dish and simply enjoy each other. It's not about the money you spend but the time.
New traditions can be fun and make the holidays a thing to be excited about again. A Christmas cookie baking night or a lifetime movie night these are the things the friends and family will remember.
Get everyone a matching shirt and have a family portrait done. Oddly, when my husband passed, it wasn't the amount of gifts he bought me (although I did love my LV bag) but it was photos. Photos suddenly became my most valued possession. Which is why I love what I do. You have no idea the value of a photo until someone is gone and then they are most treasured.
We are in some crazy times right now and families are finding themselves having to spend more time together than ever before. Odd that you can see the people in your home; a passing figure in the hall or someone who uses up the hot water yet barely know them anymore.
Teens are stuck on their electronics, parents too or in their own heads over work, money, stress whatever that we don't enjoy each other, not really. Put the electronics up, ask how their day was and actually be interested. This is the perfect time to reconnect with those you love most and make happy memories.
Life is but a grain of sand in a desert yet we act as though we have all the time in the world to focus on those things. We don't. Being a photographer I am in shock year after year watching those kids do their Senior shoots when they were just itty bitty not long ago. Time goes so fast and we get so caught up in the wrong things that we forget to live in it.
Stop stressing over the holidays and how to buy those gifts and get back to the meaning of the holiday and get back in to your family. They wont remember the gifts by spring, but they'll never forget a memory with you. That is the best gift you can give anyone...your time.