Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. Christmas runs a close second. I enjoy the creativity involved in preparing a meal, and the enjoyment of seeing family and friends happy to be together. Thanksgiving, in my mind, is the universal holiday: no matter who or where we are presently in business, or in life, we can find something to be grateful for, however for some that might require training. Christmas exposes are attitudes about giving, receiving and what's most important. We are often pleasantly surprised by others' generosity, and if we pay attention, we learn about ourselves as we evaluate for whom and how to buy gifts.
The holidays also have the potential of bringing up the darkest sides in us. For those who have lost loved ones, the time between Thanksgiving and New Years Day can be a journey of pain and tears. Trying to navigate the season of family and giving from a new, single perspective requires self care that can contradict all the togetherness around you. Give yourself permission to care for yourself. If you need to see a therapist, we can recommend some to you. We also know coaches specializing in grief who can help if that is your struggle. Ask for help. You matter. Here are 11 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Depression.
Coaching as a profession gives me the opportunity to ask questions that help others to see not only the challenges, but the potential and beauty in even the most harrowing life journey. It's there.
I'm assuming everyone is as busy as I am, so I will make this brief by sharing what can make your holiday season most meaningful:
Creating a sense of peace and joy in your home. There's a saying that, "Home is where you go when you get tired of being nice to other people." I prefer "Home is where you go when it's time to be especially nice to yourself. " If you enjoy decorating your home for Christmas, then by all means, express yourself. If you prefer uncluttered, minimal (or no) decorations, then enjoy. Let your home be the place you are happy to come to after all the festivities.
Consider what you can do for someone else. While the temptation to think about you: how disappointed you are, how lonely you are or how unappreciated you are, look outside of yourself to see who you can be a blessing.
Watch for the flower growing through the concrete. There are miracles around us if we train ourselves to look for them. This time of year more than most others, we see emphasis on the kindness of humans to each other. I believe it is there all the time but we only strain to see it between Thanksgiving and the New Year. If you are determined, you can squint and see the flowers -- the beauty of life -- growing out of hard circumstances and surprising situations. If you can't see the beauty against the backdrop of pain, suffering and lack, I challenge you to create some. The possibility for that creation lies within you.
Find the sense of family that connects all humanity. I speak with people who are lonely this time of year because they may be only children, or family members are deceased or in other places. Family doesn't have to consist of only blood; find sisterhood, "auntie-and-uncle-hood, brotherhood and yes, even motherhood among those who want to show love to someone. You are not on planet earth, at this point in time, by accident. You are connected not only to this time, but to the needs, shortcomings and beauty of this time. You are part of a God-ordained solution to the problems of this time. Your solution can be as simple as a smile to a stranger, to as complex as creating a product, business or cure. You are the carrier of something our world needs, and that connects us. "It is not good for man to be alone," so risk connecting with those who are solving problems instead of creating them.
A friend talked of having dinner with nursing home residents during the holiday. I thought to myself, what an amazing idea. There are lonely people who carry great history and wisdom and long for someone to share it with. Imagine the joy that you can be both recipient and giver of if you just expand your gaze.
You are loved
Michele Aikens is a certified life coach and business consultant. You can connect with her at www.micheleaikens.com, or on Twitter @SepiaPrimeWoman