I can remember the high emotions and excitement as a child when it was time for the holidays. That meant a break from school, lots of food, family, and fun. Oh, not to forget the pile of gifts with my name on them. I can laugh looking back at how we would purposely "trip" to fall and rip the wrapping paper on our gifts. As kids we would spend hours trying to carefully un-tape our gifts, peak at them and quickly re-tape them without being detected.
Fast forward to adulthood and I have learned as I have gotten older that the holidays are not a happy time for everyone. It is important we become more aware of the people around us and how the holidays can trigger bad memories, trauma, or even remind people of the loved ones they have lost or never knew. In this blog post I wanted to share a few reasons the holidays might not be so happy for everyone.
1. Sadness and Depression. The holidays are a time where some people battle with sadness, depression, and even grief. This can come in many forms; some people are grieving the death of a loved one, others might be depressed or deeply sad due to a loved one that is missing or incarcerated. Sadness and depression can even affect someone that never knew the identity of one or both biological parents. Lastly, the holiday season can also be hard on parents that have lost children or even those struggling to conceive.
2. Loneliness. Everyone does not have a strong group of family and friends to do life with. This is why for some the holidays are extremely lonely. While some people might have family it can be very toxic and so they are now estranged from family members. There are also people that have no living family members or in some cases people were raised in a multitude of foster care and group homes and might not necessarily feel connected to any "family". Loneliness can also hit hard if a person has recently gone through a divorce or major breakup.
3. Trauma Triggers. When people have been traumatized or experienced a very disturbing and distressing event they can sometimes be triggered. When I say triggered I simply mean there can be people, places and things that can cause someone to recall a particular traumatic experience. This is why some choose to stay away from their families due to a plethora of bad memories and toxic relatives that could have a major negative impact on their mental health.
4. Financial Distress. Due to social norms and expectations the holidays can be stressful for a lot of people. Some people are simply strapped for cash and the holiday seasons can cause people to feel downhearted. This can be especially true for parents when they feel they have to shower their kids with gifts and everything that they asked for on their wish list. My advice to anyone is free yourself of the guilt and do not spend beyond a set budget. Christmas is one day of the year and there is no need to put yourself in a place of financial distress to appease anyone. You shouldn't be on the verge of eviction to show anyone you love them.
5. Sickness. When people are not at optimal health it can cause them to experience a number of emotions. Let's remember that when people are suffering due to sickness this holiday season it might not be a very happy time for them. Especially if they are unable to eat, are in a lot of pain, dealing with new sensory limitations (going blind, losing hearing etc), or are no longer able to care for themselves and move around freely.
May we all be a bit more kind, understanding and mindful of others during the holiday season. This doesn't mean not enjoying yourself but just being aware enough to realize this is not always a happy time for everyone.