The Merriest Time of the Year (For Some)
I know I had promised that my previous post “WORLD IN MY EYES (FAVORITE POSTS OF 2015)” would be the last of 2015 but… it is hard to keep a writer away from his keyboard when he sees a need…
I noticed one of those “temporary public service announcement posts” on Facebook this morning – the ones that float around and ask you to share on your wall for an hour. This one was about the Holiday Season and how due to life circumstances, this time of year can be very rough on some. The furthest thing from Jolly. Feeling a deep connection to this one, I of course put it on my Facebook wall. I then realized that I really wanted to address this on my blog as well. Oh well, time to break my 2015 blog promise – but I think for a good reason.
I’m lucky in that I honestly do feel reinvigorated by Christmas most years, including this year.
I have so many great Holiday memories from over the years, a top goal is to try to instill the same memories in my kids. Special activities (my wife is actually much better at those than me but I try), special annual family traditions to ground them into a family history (everything from Santa train rides to me channeling (loudly) Clark W. Griswold whenever I first light the tree & exterior lights, special cooking of the same dishes each year (my specialty) and favorite holiday movies to name only a few. Spending this time together doing these special annual activities is priceless to me.
Taken together they infuse a sense of tradition & normalcy into our lives. It is one way to show that cancer doesn’t win – traditions may need to be tweaked due to circumstances but one way or another they can figure out a way to shine through – perhaps tarnished some years by factors beyond our control, but there none-the-less. This was beautifully shown in the Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”. It is my daughter’s current favorite Christmas book/original cartoon BTW. I am glad – it has an excellent Holiday message for her to absorb.
I can relate to that Facebook post however since the previous few years’ Holidays were tough. I kept up a “jolly exterior” but I was dealing with conflicting emotions on the inside – worrying about if it would be my last “healthy holiday”, thinking about how many more I would have with the kids, worriedly imagining the possibility of them having future Holidays without me. Likewise, I had trouble in past years with Holidays near the deaths of my parents – it is tough to feel jolly when the sense of loss is still so fresh in your mind.
I can’t explain why I am once again reinvigorated by Christmas, the worries of the past few years receding. Perhaps it is simple acceptance of my diagnosis. Perhaps it is the amazing & large support network I have. Perhaps it is my true excitement about future potential treatments making my current prognosis feel less dire & “automatic”. Probably it is a mixture of all those and more. I am in a good emotional place this Christmas but I know others are not. For me, luckily currently it’s a wonderful life (my #1 favorite movie by the way). But for many others, it is not. I think “It’s a Wonderful Life” is my all-time favorite movie because there is a lot of darkness caused by bad circumstances in it but a redemption of joy at the end, as George Bailey sees how everyone is indeed interconnected – especially by acts of good. My kind of message.
Both Side of the Coin
Having seen both sides of the Holiday emotional coin, I ask you to be understanding of those around you – many of them may be like me the past few years, struggling on the inside while trying to force a grin on their face for appearance. Many of them may instead not even be able to do that and are openly unhappy. For people with clinical depression (which I have had in my past) being surrounded by “constant jolly” is like rubbing salt in their emotional wound. Don’t stop the Holidays due to that but I ask you to be understanding & compassionate…
I’ll end with this morning’s Facebook post making the rounds. It was suggested to be put on my timeline for an hour out of compassion. I did this. I think it is an important message, so I decided it deserved much more than an hour of Facebook fame – so here it is pasted below.
Where ever you are mentally, emotionally & physically – I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (whichever you traditionally celebrate). I hope you have a good Holiday Season but not with any pressure to be jolly if that is hard for you this year… In that event I offer Hope that you are able to find a path to happiness & Hope, if that is the gift you need most this Holiday Season.
Wishing you all the best, especially this time of year.
Facebook Post Sent to Me
Some thoughts as we enter the holiday season…It is important to remember that not everyone is looking forward to Christmas. Some people are not surrounded by large wonderful families and friends. Some of us have problems during the holidays and are overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us. For many, it is their first Christmas without a particular loved one, many others lost loved ones at Christmas time. And, many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness. We all need caring, loving thoughts right now. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly post this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Please do it for all of us, for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends for moral support. I did it for a friend and you can do it too! (Hold your finger over this to copy & paste this one, NO sharing please). Thanks