The festive season is hands down my favorite time of the year. I’m sure many share this sentiment, but for me, it’s mostly because there is no place like home during December, more specifically the 031 – nothing but vibes. It’s a time for special family memories, decorating, social gatherings, and of course – good food. Or at least that is what the holiday season is associated with, giving, relaxing, and recuperating.
I would hope that after this holiday season people feel recharged, but for many, the pressure of fulfilling and living up to these ‘expectations’ is a nightmare that is finally over.
The shared consensus in preparation for the holiday season is perfection and nothing less. People are committed to having a special magical time, and that desire can lead to disappointment. We expect everyone will be happy over this time, being anything but that is frowned upon. Many feel judged for feeling lonely during a time that values togetherness. A period in the year where the only emotion one should be experiencing is pure bliss. However, this isn’t the case for many. It’s the exact opposite.
For individuals who have recently lost a loved one or currently experiencing family problems, it can be a triggering time of the year. It can remind them of their loved ones and sometimes it may be the very person who was the glue of the family. The person who brought everyone together and made the festive time memorable. Re-triggering feelings of grief and loss. Those estranged from close family who have distant, challenging relationships experience sadness and alienation over this time. The festive period can be a source of distress and misery, feeling judged and blamed by peers for not having family plans. Many are dependent on their friendship dynamics during this time and feel embarrassed to intrude on family time.
Others may meet up with family members they have an ‘uncomfortable’ past with but cannot avoid. Forced to be ‘fake’ and put your best foot forward to keep the peace can be demanding during a time of celebration.
Quite frankly, many households may not have much to celebrate in the last few years and simply cannot afford the ‘bliss’ others can. So yes, you see why many welcome January with open arms.
Stress over this time can also stem from having to organize, plan and execute the festivities for others. The pressure sometimes solely lies on one person to create an ambiance for everyone. When responsibilities are not evenly split, people can be overwhelmed with preparing every detail of their celebrations. It definitely can be taxing, the weight of the holidays on an individual. Catering to everyone’s needs and ironically having zero relaxation during the holidays.
Then comes our friend comparison. Comparing during the festive time is the stressor that pulls many into ‘excess.’ Doing the most and more- because Susie’s lights blind the block more than yours. Once you begin comparing, you will always fall short- because you create assumptions about others’ reality and their experience based on what they have.
Every family dynamic is different, do not place your happiness on how lavishly others choose to celebrate, a meal around the table together with the people you love is priceless. No two families are the same. Hence, they will not ‘celebrate’ the same.
Although stress during the festive can have many worn out with the financial toll and energy expended, the aftermath for others can be worse. Sometimes building up this momentous time and facing the reality that it is over can feel like the highlight of the year has come and gone. January can feel dead and empty as reality sets in. The magic is over and life feels ordinary again. The cycle starts, as we await the next festive season.
But this year it will be different. We will be conscious about the haves and have nots. We will embrace and welcome those into our homes, with the belief that a warm meal can go a long way. We will focus on the simplicities of life and celebration. We will understand our roles during the festive time and make sure we contribute in our capacity. We will not be ‘moved’ by excess and consumerism but rather be motivated by realistic expectations. We will prioritize self-care during the holidays and check in on our peers. We will use the festive time as a mark for introspection and self-growth. Instead of racing through the months until the next festive, we will use that time to measure our improvement.
Who will you be this December?
I certainly hope – not stressed.