Discomfort and Joy – the Holidays

Zowie, I lost track of time. I informally made a commitment to myself that I would post weekly, then things got busy, and I gave myself permission to go to 2 weeks. Then a month – now two.  I have been thinking about writing- even started several posts in my head, but of course you wouldn’t know that. How could you? I have been sticking with my food plan and 13 weeks in I have lost 30 pounds.  I wish I could tell you I had met my goal, but alas it’s further down the road.

The holiday season – the dreaded, beloved, often anticipated (not always happily) holiday season. The ambivalence that accompanied the holidays exists for many people- fond memories of happier times, or maybe frightening memories of terrible times, realizations of hopes unmet, gratefulness, sadness, the joy of feeling childlike, the helpless dread of feeling childlike. These all occur for me as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve approach.

Like many adult children of alcoholics, I remember Christmas as a time when the fun and excitement was often dampened by sullen drunkenness, broken promises, someone sleeping it off, or being belligerent. It was a time when parents fought about money. I don’t remember my parents fighting about spending the holidays with my mother’s large family, but my father always refused to go.  That didn’t stop us. I don’t think my maternal cousins knew my dad at all, even though my parents didn’t divorce until their youngest were in junior high. And yet – I still looked forward to it, hoped for the best – that everyone would be happy.

As an adult I often had a dread of not being good enough in my planning, my cooking, my dressing, my gift-giving, whatever… You name it and I worried that it wouldn’t be “right.” It was hard to relax and enjoy times with friends and family. It was hard to play while keeping a watchful eye on all the possibilities that could go wrong.

I am grateful now that most of those fears are gone. One thing that surviving into your sixties does is to give you perspective. There is no turkey so dry or roast beef so rare that a meal needs to be ruined.  There is no need for finances to dampen the joy of being together with people who love you and whom you love.  There is also no need to do that on December 24 or 25, if those days don’t work for you.  The world doesn’t collapse if there is no Christmas tree or if outdoor lights don’t go up or come down on schedule. Or if you don’t get all those different cookies baked.

We have continually increased the commercial demands in the U.S. for this season to be filled with material things. In 1969, pregnant with our first child, I wrote a Christmas song that began “Hot Wheels and Barbie dolls…Visa or Mastercard,” and ended with “where is the baby that lies in the manger?” That was 43 years ago. I was dismayed then at all the commercials and focus on buying things. The products have multiplied geometrically. Instead of growing wiser as a nation, we have focused more on having things to demonstrate our well-being. Things, not peace, justice, serenity, or joy.  That’s what I want for Christmas and for the new year, and if it has any chance of happening, I need to do my part.

My challenge for this season is to urge all the political contributors (the donors of more than $2 billion in the presidential campaign alone) to match their campaign and PAC contributions with donations to charity.  If that happens, 2013 could be a very good year.

Peace to you all

Take Care and Be Well


Remember, this forum is not intended to be therapy.  I have no way to view your body language, hear your tone of voice, or see if your words and your displayed emotions are matching.  These are essential to effective communication and great tools for the therapist (and for the consumer when reversed.) I will attempt to be as helpful as I can. I will refer you the best I can to needed services. Even though I will not be your therapist, I am a health care professional bound by law and ethics to act to protect persons from harm. I am required to report my concerns of  harm to self or others, and suspected abuse of children and vulnerable adults.  I am located and providing these services in Washington State.

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Filed under behavior, change, childhood trauma, emotional healing, habits, healing, mental health, patterns, Penny Milczewski, relationship, self-care, wellbeing

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