Happy Holidays! Or are they?! Over the years I have asked myself this every time the holiday season comes around.
Personally, I love the holidays. I love the decorations, the music, the treats, and the family time. Being together, feeling the love and being thankful for all that we have.
Ok – I can’t even type that without a little chuckle or sneer. Sure, right! That’s exactly what the holidays are about?! At least in our minds that is what we tell ourselves. But what is the reality that I see these days?
Stress! Stress is the reality. Guilt! Guilt is the other reality! And both lead us all to indulgence. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a house of indulgence and at the time, as a child, it was amazing. But over the years, it started to just be embarrassing. The amount of presents. The stress I saw all of the parties and gift buying put on my mother. The guilt she felt that she wasn’t doing enough for everyone, and then the frustration when people didn’t appreciate it.
And then I met my husband. He grew up in probably the more traditional view of all of this. The days of the large gift from Santa. Single gifts for everyone. The large family that drew names. Sure there was stress over cooking and managing, and even the gift giving was nerve-wracking I am sure, but it was so different than my reality.
So for years we have been back in forth. Finally getting my family to all agree to no presents. Once the nieces and nephews were grown, the gift giving stopped and my small family focused on other things, like holiday trips and giving to charity. And in theory it all seemed to be the right move. No more worrying over the perfect gift, no more “great, what do I do with this thing” after opening a present. That stress was gone.
But now the guilt has set in and a new level of stress has been put in it’s place. The stress of guilt.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I suffer from depression and anxiety. It’s a genetic disposition, but worsened by all of the factors that impacted me growing up. Mostly by the fact that I’m an only child and by my personality. While everyone takes on a level of wanting their family happy and making sure they are taken care of, I take it to the extreme. As the main focal point for my parents, and in a family that has many layers now (step parents, etc.), I have allowed the stress and guilt of not being there for my family over take me, and I now have fallen back into indulgence.
Over the past year, I have indulged. While one trip to Disney would be enough for most folks and a day visit would be ok for people like us that live close by, I planned 6 mini Disney vacations. Six! And treated each trip as if they were vacations, with the goodies and indulgences, all with the idea that I was making up for my guilt. I indulged over Mother’s Day and birthdays with dinners and visits. I indulged during the hurricane when my daughter was upset about not being home. I indulged because of guilt. A guilt that is normal. A guilt that everyone feels, but a guilt that my anxiety makes seems unconquerable.
So, with the help of my husband, we have said “enough”. We cleaned out my daughter’s room of all the indulgences she never played with and the over abundance of “stuffies” stashed in closets. We rethought Christmas and she will be getting a couple of large gifts and a handful of small ones. We have cleaned out our home of the excess and are getting back to simplicity. We are setting our “non-negotiables” with family and hoping that both myself and all of them can stick to it. I will admit, none of this has been easy. I cried wondering if the few items at Christmas would be “enough”. I cried at saying goodbye to items I had held onto in boxes for 30 years. I cried at the money I spent on things my daughter never used. I cried.
And, the guilt is still there. Deep inside. It’s there when my daughter won’t speak to me because I’m working when she gets home from school. It’s there when I hear my mom’s voice or see her face on FaceTime and see her disappoint that her time will be limited with my daughter. It’s there when I know my father is struggling with her life as transgender and just needs to know she is loved. It’s there when I have to leave my husband for a week to care for my daughter while I travel for work. It’s all there, all the time!
So again, I am saying “enough”. Enough to the guilt, enough to the stress, enough to the frustration and anger and the over indulgence it leads to. I want to embrace every moment as special, not just the big ones. I want to be in the moment, not worrying if it’s “enough”. I want to know at the end of each night when I lay my head down that I truly did my best, I did “enough”.
Enough! As 2016 comes to a close and 2017 is knocking at the door, I vow to continue to say “enough”. To remember that I truly am doing the best that I can. That my family should and will love me for that. That through my strength of prioritizing, they will see how I am taking care of all of them in a different way. That it will be “enough”.
I challenge everyone to try “enough”. To remember what the true spirit of the holiday season is (not just the religious meaning or gift giving). To focus on your family, on memories, on spending time. For that is the greatest gift we can give anyone.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful TIME this holiday season, filled with “enough”!