Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Survival 101b

Around this time of year, we usually get at least one sermon about getting through the holidays and remaining ambassadors of Christ, giving love and inciting hope. Our Pastor would give us  Holiday  Survival 101, reminding us that we already know what the holiday will bring, and we should be proactively positioned to remain Christ like in our responses and actions during this season. In other words, as she would say "don't bring God any slaughtered lambs" that have been wounded with our thoughts, words or deeds because of a tense holiday gathering. I appreciated that annual reminder.  It helped me to develop a giving and forgiving mindset and enjoy the holiday's with love and laughter.

This  season should be filled with good feeling and great vibrations; yet statistically it's a time with high rates of depression and suicide. People feel more alone than at any other time of year.  It's also a time when even the most confrontational family member is going to be sitting around the dinner table and stirring up the trouble brew. If your family is anything like mine, there will be a lot of laughter and love, and a couple of thinly veiled barbs and jibes. If nobody takes the high road, a neatly lobbed barb could spark a cold war. You have to be careful to remind yourself that this is about love and nothing less.

For a family of divorce there's an added dimension to the holiday frenzy - shared parenting. One parent is going to be without the kids during a time that extols the virtues of family togetherness. You can really see the effect of divorce on everybody, including the extended famlily.

This year, I felt myself getting melancholy on Thanksgiving, not having my children with me. I have to admit that for the first time, I felt lonely without my babies. My 7 year old was with his father, and my teenage daughter was with her cousins. Me, a woman who loves her own company and rates it at the top of the list when it comes to people I want to spend time with; I felt lonely.

It was such a foreign emotion, I had to get over the shock to allow myself to feel it and face it. Then, I tried to call my best girlfriends and my sisters, because I needed somebody to bear witness to my loneliness. When I couldn't get in touch with anybody, I asked God who I could talk to about this unfamiliar emotional territory I was embracing. Ironically, or not, I begin to talk to Him. Out loud. In my car. I got therapy that people pay thousands for; and it was immediately effective.

To know my family is to understand why it was necessary to have permission to embrace a notion such as loneliness. The whole lot of us have driven, A-Type personalities and appreciate the company of our own selves so much that recognizing loneliness is as extreme as wearing white after labor day. (You just don't do it. It's not debatable).

Depending to whom you speak, admitting to feelings of loneliness can result in anything from the need for a 24 hour suicide watch to a family wide discussion on how you should get your mate back and never should have let him go. It's a sign of weakness.

Just because God is so lovely, He reminded me that in my weakness, He is made strong. Plus, loneliness does not equal weakness. How I handle my emotions, though, could very well expose a weakness. When I was done having a little talk with Jesus, I was no longer lonely. I was, however, still alone.

I recognized I need a plan of action for holiday's with or without my children. Thanksgiving morning I joined my Mom and sisters for Coffee Time. I did light housework and nearly nothing else. It was such a shock to my psyche that I felt guilty about it! You know the saying - an idle mind is the devil's workshop. The flip side to that a mind concentrated on Christ is not idle - it's occupied.

I'm divorced and this is a regular part of my lifestyle. For that reason alone, it requires planning.

When my kids came home, I was relaxed and excited to see them. Now that Thanksgiving is past, I think I will get ready for Christmas. I will definitely have a plan in place from now on, whether with or without kids on any given holiday.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I too had to deal with being alone and loneliness