Here we are. Week 1 of Proper Holiday Time commencing (at least, if you’re in the U.S.).
Depending on your situation, that probably either makes you very happy or very sad.
Me? I’m the latter. But trying not to let it get to me too much.
This is a season that tends to similarly divide us every year. You love the holidays or you hate them. They summon images of cozy fires and spiked cider and family, or simply the family you miss. They’re easy for you or hard for you. A time of comfort or stress.
The two sides aren’t always divided so harshly, of course. As with most things in life, you probably spend most of your time in the gray, not the black or white. Where you live on that spectrum likely sways from year to year—if not a pendulum, a tightrope walker looking for balance.
One thing is almost guaranteed, though: Whatever your usual sentiments are about the holidays, they’re probably magnified this year. (Unless you usually get to spend the holidays with family and can’t this year—in which case, I commiserate.)
2020, we all know, is a year unlike any other. Why shouldn’t the holidays be any different … right?
Ask me honestly, and I’ll tell you I wish we could just cancel them this year. Put our heads down and plow through winter until we get to 2021, never looking back.
The holidays have the potential, for some, to feel like the most normal part of this godforsaken year.
I shared that wish with a friend this week, and she reminded me that a lot of people are probably really looking forward to the holidays this year. People who haven’t lost their jobs, who have kids, who see the holidays as a time of reprieve and quiet celebration.
The holidays have the potential, for some, to feel like the most normal part of this godforsaken year. People tend to spend the holidays at home anyway, away from school and work and, often, social engagements. Hole up inside with the ones you love and play board games and eat feasts and open presents. What about that isn’t to love?
To all of those people, I say:
That’s wonderful. You deserve it. Soak it up, enjoy, find some respite from the world. Stay close with those you love and pretend the realities of this year don’t exist for awhile. Play the records that make you smile, watch the movies that remind you of childhood, give the people around you extra hugs and sweetness. Do it up like you never have before. Do it for all of us. Change the collective wavelength. Seek joy.
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And to all of those who are spending the holidays alone, unable to get to family—missing them along with those people you always miss this time of year, and maybe missing them for the first time because this is the year you lost them—out of work or scraping by, feeling isolated and unsure of how you’re going to make it through, I say:
You’re not really alone. You’re not the only one feeling that cacophony of grief. Winter may feel especially long this year, but it will still end, as it always does, as it always will.
Seeds will sprout and poke through thawed earth. The sun will stay with us longer. Leaves will unfurl and air will warm and the ground will be spackled again with crocus and daffodil and iris, and the trees will bloom pink and white.
And when this winter does end, when those signals of spring return so familiarly, they’ll carry with them new reasons for hope: vaccines. The change won’t be instant and life won’t immediately resume to the way it was before 2020, but it will be an important, critical step in the journey home. And we will eventually get there.
If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to this winter, you can talk to me. I love pen pals.
This is going to be a hard month and a half for a lot of us. There is some comfort, though, in knowing that we’re not the only ones going through it, not the only ones feeling this new level of isolation. In many ways, not really alone.
I would be remiss not to remind you here that if you’re struggling this season, the National Suicide Hotline is there for you 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255. Chat is also available on its website.
With much love.