The holiday season can really make our emotions feel they are on STEROIDS….with so many hyped up expectations and many of us holding tightly to that (positive) belief that we somehow have the impossible superhuman ability to orchestrate a seamless, harmonious family event this year….even though we know certain relatives aren’t speaking to their siblings, or someone is going to get a little too tipsy and loudly share how they REALLY feel… like they do every year. We seem to enjoy pretending that magically, for just a couple of hours, after someone has spent days chopping, preparing, baking, stuffing, decorating and exhausting themselves, there will be massive appreciation and every person in attendance will glimmer and glow like they are in a candlelit Hallmark movie…time will stand still as we capture the perfect food, perfect hairdos, and perfect smiles in our selfies.
The truth of the matter is that a friend of mine lost her 25-year-old daughter suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of a text conversation about meeting up for a movie two weeks ago – a brain aneurysm ended her young life in an instant. This will be her first Thanksgiving without her only child. Another friend lost her favorite doctor, a brilliant young mother with two small children, who ended her own life just this week. Thanksgiving week will never feel the same again. Another family is still reeling from the recent loss of their precious grandbaby, who was born prematurely and only lived for a handful of days. Thanksgiving pictures will seem like the most important person is missing for another family who will be gathering for their first holiday meal without Mom. Yet another friend is broken hearted because her son is in prison and won’t be able to enjoy the festivities with his siblings and grandparents. Another beautiful “perfect” family is on the brink of divorce and the stress level is off the charts… So with all of these wonderful friends in mind yesterday, I wrote this little poem sitting in the hospital yesterday:
What if we served up generous portions of kindness and grace?
Instead of rushing around…stuffing our face
Overspending and grabbing those Black Friday “finds”
when really we drive ourselves out of our minds!
A friend recently shared, the opposite of “more” is “enough.”
And do any of us really need any more STUFF?
I’m choosing instead new memories to create
with family and friends I get to appreciate.
I’m scooping up smiles and filling my heart
For none of us knows the day we’ll depart.
Life is so precious – our time here is short
so stay home from the mall – build a pillow fort!
Dance with your kids or your favorite friend
And soak up the moments, from now ’til
-Sarah Cranston, November 20, 2018
We all know and love someone who is aching right now and feeling that they “should” be able to ACT happy and “should” be cooking a bigger feast or “should ” find a way to not feel left out and lonely….but “should-ing” on yourself is NEVER a great option. Whenever I find myself “should-ing” on me…I switch that word to “COULD” and it just takes all the pressure off. It looks/feels/sounds like this: I could act like I’m not sad, but I choose to be authentic instead and allow my reality to be imperfect. I could cook a huge meal out of obligation and habit, but I choose to honor my need to rest and it’s okay to order takeout or just eat popcorn with the ones I love instead. I could race around town and snatch up lots of amazing bargains, but I would prefer to stay home and read a book that makes me feel both relaxed and inspired. I could pick a side and add some fuel to the family fued that’s simmering, but I choose to be a peacemaker and bridge builder instead and just demonstrate what nonjudgmental unconditional love looks like to BOTH sides of the war…knowing that LOVE ALWAYS WINS.
This Thanksgiving, I hope you will recognize the options you have available. My wish is that you create your own permission slip that provides YOU with what YOU need to be healthy, be sane, feel nurtured, feel protected, and most importantly feel grateful and blessed to have the gift of another day here on earth to fully experience, appreciate, and allow what is.
You do matter. You are loved. Your life is priceless beyond description.