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Allowing Space for Holiday Gloom

There’s an expectation and pressure to be jolly and merry in December. We hear promises from songs and commercial advertising that it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” and therefore we should act accordingly. And if we don’t, there must be something wrong with us.

This is simply not true.

We are allowed to feel whatever we are authentically feeling. For many, that’s overwhelm and grief during the holidays. And what these folks really need is judgment-free space to be exactly as they are.

I, myself, have mixed emotions about the holidays. Twenty-two years ago, my mom died on December 5. She was Mrs. Christmas and we couldn’t bear to face being at home with our memories and all the decorations, most of which she’d handmade. So, we opted for a family trip to Knott’s Berry Farm in an attempt to escape our pain with wild rides and funnel cake. Since then, there’s always a twinge of sadness when I pull her decorations out of storage and place them around my home in remembrance of her and the bitter-sweet memories of my childhood long gone.

I know many friends who lost a loved one this year and this will be their first holiday without them. The grief is still quite strong and raw. I know a few folks with parents in hospice and they’re unsure if they’ll survive until 2022. The worry and concern over making their parents’ final moments comfortable and meaningful feels suffocating, not to mention their pre-grieving. I know another woman who is experiencing heartbreak from a breakup while caretaking for her daughter who is sick. Another friend is deep in divorce heartache and legal logistics. One friend has spent the past few weeks experiencing an emotional-yo-yo as her son repeatedly checks in and checks out of rehab for drug addiction. And I know others who are alone and feel a blanket of loneliness that much thicker when watching sappy Hallmark Christmas movies full of cheerful families and couples falling in love.

All the downs of life don’t cease simply because we flipped the calendar to December. So why do we shame and guilt ourselves away from experiencing our circumstances? Why do we paint over our sadness with Instagram posts of festive dining tables and hearths? Because society ostracizes those who “bring down the vibe” and no one wants to be “that person.” We also live in a time when it’s trendy to spiritually bypass anything that doesn’t feel good straight to “love, light and surrender.”

If I have one wish, it’s that we stop the socialized pressure to exhibit “high vibes only” and give ourselves permission to be human, to experience the full spectrum of all our emotions and vibrational states. Our shadow selves don’t disappear simply because we refuse to look at them.

Let’s instead allow ourselves to be as we are and feel whatever we feel in each and every moment, especially if it inspires snot-filled crying. And for those of us who may genuinely feel jolly and merry, may we hold safe, judgment-free space for those who don’t to be messy, sad, confused, and overwhelmed.

May we feel what we feel.

May we be as we are.

May we allow the full spectrum of life to ebb and flow.

May we embrace our emotions, whatever they may be.

May we suspend judgment for all.

Have a Human Holiday!

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