What if it Doesn’t Feel Like the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

grieving at ChristmastimeThis time of year can be completely magical. Whether it be the beautiful lights on display,  Christmas tunes playing on the radio, or the excitement in your children’s eyes. All around us are constant reminders of it being the most wonderful time of the year (queue the music). For some, however, this time of year may not feel so wonderful. How do you make it through the holidays when feeling less than merry and bright?

Tradition Goes a Long Way

Christmas can be a time when material things come front and center. Children make lists for Santa, relatives often inquire about what to buy for the children, and we are inundated with magazines, ads and promotional offers. Some children receive many gifts while others receive only a few. For the parents of the latter, it is hard not to feel stressed and worried during this spending season. Try to remember that children often do not reflect back on Christmas based on what toy they did or did not receive. Most remember the activities and events which brought joy. They will recall time spent with family and cousins, driving around town to see lights, making a gingerbread house, or any other tradition which is important to your family. Think back to your childhood Christmases. Do you remember the year you did not get a particular must have toy? Do you think back and say, I did not get enough things? When I think back to my childhood what stands out the most are traditions. I remember driving every Christmas Eve to the bonfires on the levee, the lights in City Park, getting to see all of my cousins on Christmas day and the long holiday break from school.

If this year greets you with financial strain and a tight budget, remember to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. More than anything they crave attention and fun.

A Case of the Blues

Maybe the financial part of Christmas is not stressful, but you simply have the blues and are not feeling joyful. The year did not treat you well, sickness, tragedy or simple fatigue can be magnified during the holiday season. Give yourself grace and do not feel like you must commit or participate in every event possible. When feeling down and out, self care is vital. Consider sharing your true feelings with a friend or family member. At times, yes, we must put on a smile and carry on for our children. However, we also must not hold the weight of the world single handedly on our shoulders. In sharing, often our worries and burdens become a little lighter, and we are comforted in knowing someone else loves us enough to listen.

Holidays are especially tough for those who recently lost a loved one or are in the throes of an illness. These situations are draining both physically and emotionally. Mustering up the excitement and energy usually felt during the holiday season can seem impossible. During these times, it may help to celebrate the small things. When my family was amidst my husband’s cancer journey, I adopted a mountains in the valleys motto. For me, this meant trying to find a little light, wherever possible, in the dark. When in the valley, we must look a lot harder for the mountains. During the holiday season, instead of elaborate gifts and multi-tiered gingerbread mansions, you may be celebrating great lab values, a quiet moment to yourself in the evening or getting a full night’s sleep. These are certainly things to celebrate! 

This Too Shall Pass

Know that wherever you are now is not permanent. If this Christmas does not feel like one to celebrate, your best holiday may lie ahead of you. If you happen to be feeling merry and bright, consider sharing a little extra love and kindness with those who may not be as fortunate. For those hurting during the holidays, may you ring in the new year with hope and promise for your best year yet.

Wishing you a blessed holiday season from my heart to yours!

Ashley is originally from Thibodaux, La. She moved to Baton Rouge in 2005 to attend graduate school at LSU where she received a master’s degree in social work. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Taylor, for 15 years and they have 3 daughters Raegan (14), Julia (8) and Sadie (2 going on 20). Ashley worked as a social worker in the medical field for 10 years before taking a break to be a stay at home mom. Life took a very unexpected turn when her husband was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2019 which fueled her passion for rare disease awareness. She is co-founder of the non-profit Garage 10 which provides financial assistance to individuals with rare diseases. Ashley loves family, faith, friends, date nights, coffee creamer, exercising and quiet moments amongst the business of life.

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