As we enter the holiday season we all have anticipation and expectations of the holidays. For some, it is pure joy: time with family and friends, great food, hanging out around the house, playing games, watching movies, shopping and decorating for Christmas. There are so many traditions and possibilities. Yet some have sadness around the holidays, due to loss or family dysfunction. This can be really painful, especially when others look so happy.
What do you want to do? This is especially directed to women. I talk to so many women who are doing things they do not enjoy. They are tired, looking forward to much needed time off and exhausted by the workload associated with all the activities to make a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for others. If you love doing this, skip ahead, this does not pertain to you. Do what you enjoy. This might require some honest conversation and negotiation with family and friends. One of my older patients decided she wanted to be alone with her cat, eat a ham sandwich and watch old movies. She had a wonderful, big family and she saw them a lot. She said she needed a break and finally convinced them that this is what she really wanted. Someone told me today that she and her husband are staying home alone and having their favorite take-out pizza. I’m going out to have a veggie dinner at a restaurant with my husband (I do not want to cook), take a walk along the river, and then home for a nap. The options are endless. It’s ok to do what you want, without guilt.
Practice gratitude. Start now writing down 5 people and things you are grateful for. This will instantly put you in a good state of mind. Tell the people in your life that you love and appreciate them. Remember that everyone has a right to be the way they are and that we are all doing the best we can. Give everyone a break for being less than perfect, starting with yourself.
Here’s my list: I am so grateful for my healthy body, my terrific husband, being alive and engaged in work I love with a wonderful staff I adore, and patients I love. Thank you for the honor of working with so many great families over the past 30+ years!