Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How I Handled Christmas In 10 Steps

I'm writing this a year in advance.  In fact, Christmas Day 2016, was just yesterday.  Things are beginning to get back to normal.  Email and social media feeds are starting to liven up again.  Trash pickup just went by trying to collect everyone's trash from yesterday.  So, yeah, Christmas is over once again.

However, I thought I would write this because someone asked me if I would do anything different the next year.  I had written earlier that I struggled to deal with the holidays.  I'm one of those where the hurt and pain shows up with the fun and presents.

Growing up, my mom did her best to really go all out celebrating Christmas on a shoestring budget.  Yes, we were envious of our friends who got a lot of presents, but my mom tried to make it special in other ways.  From decorating Christmas cookies, to the food and candy she would make and to just decorating the house, it became a special day.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all of it there was a lot of stuff that hit the fan.  There were many moments that are painful and in fact so painful, that I can't even talk about them yet.  I've done a tremendous amount of healing and forgiveness but the stuff is there in too great of quantities.

So, when Christmas comes - it isn't easy.  The turmoil that hits me emotionally and in my mind feels like 200 MACK trucks hitting me at about 100 mph every second of every day.  It isn't easy.  Lord knows I've tried to find ways to deal with it, but it just is not easy.  If you're like I am, than this isn't news to you.

Here's some of the things I did in 2016 and I'm writing this to my future self so I'll remember what worked and what helped.

  1. We were able to take a trip for a few days leading up to Christmas.  In that final week before Christmas, I truly struggle, and so this helped keep my mind off of dwelling on it.
  2. I tried to slow down for December.  Even half of my normal speed is almost too much.  A few things to do can quickly and easily overwhelm me.  So, it's best to slow it down a lot!
  3. I made sure that anything I wanted to get done to celebrate Christmas was done by the middle of the month.  I knew that the last week or two, I just needed to coast through it.  Any more than that and it was too much.
  4. I reached out to my partner and tried to explain things about what I needed.  He was very loving and compassionate and worked with me.
  5. I reached out to friends, and they were a support during this time.  In fact, I tried to help be there for them, and I think it helped me in the long run.
  6. I recognized that this was a tough time and tried hard not to beat myself up for it.  It is the way it is, and there is no sense in shaming myself into what my "surreal concept" should be for Christmas.
  7. I tried to get in extra exercise and activity by walking and worked to not let myself isolate from others or the outdoors.  Fortunately, I live in a warm climate, but just being outside in nature and the sun helped me greatly.
  8. I looked for ways to be creative, but not necessarily that I had to complete a project.  Creativity helps me deal with life and stress and the past.  If I embrace it, it helps me.
  9. I would look for moments of quietness and stillness to just take care of myself.  I didn't do this to hide or isolate, but to just give myself a chance to breathe.
  10. I worked to help connect with my mind and body through awareness and breathing so I could give myself a boost in energy to deal with all the pain I was facing.

For the most part, these things helped.  Yes, I did get depressed.  Yes, I struggled with anxiety.  I already try to stay out of the stores right around the holiday because people are usually rude and inconsiderate.  It takes very little to push me over the edge.

I do avoid any parties because I just don't do well at this time.  On Christmas, I stay away from family functions because it is just too much for me to sort out.  A good video and downtime from the computer are far more welcomed to me than having to negotiate family pain.


These things help.  I just know that it isn't an easy time and I've learned it is okay to be okay with that.  The "beautiful family gatherings" may exist out there, but I know many who struggle with the pain it brings.  If we honor and respect where we are, what we can do and that we have so much going for us, it can make the days go a little easier.

What do you do to help yourself handle Christmas?  Leave a reply and let me know.

Blog Post And Images (c) 11/30/17 by Don Shetterly
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Blog Post And Images (c) 1/01/07 by Don Shetterly
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