We’re on the cusp of the holiday season, and I admit that I feel apprehensive about it. This time last year, I struggled with getting into the spirit of togetherness; I was still job searching and adjusting to “the adult life” as it is sometimes called. Add in the grief over what was happening my family, and no amount of Michael Buble, cinnamon candles, or cookies could get me out of the funk. The circumstances are somewhat different this year and the changing waters have begun to calm, but I’m still not sure how to approach it.
How do I embrace the possibility of feeling strange and awkward without slipping into depression?
How do I find joy in this season of anticipation, without forcing or sugarcoating anything?
It’s not sadness or excitement, but rather a “blahh” ambivalence that normally doesn’t hit me until January. I’ve noticed that with summer, there’s more risk-taking with an “anything can happen” mentality attached to it. Autumn brings the change of colors, and I always experience a sense of closeness and intimacy, as there is a lot of nostalgia involved. I enjoy winter up until Christmas, and then afterward get cranky because of the bleary skies and not having the motivation to get out as much. (Do we even have spring anymore??)
As far as why I’m feeling that way sooner rather than later, I don’t know exactly. My best guess at the moment is because of how intense this year has been, which I’ll reflect more on in the coming weeks. I want to connect, to be around people and be involved, but lately it has become rather overwhelming and a little bit scary. I’ve opened myself up in a lot of different ways to where by now I’ve been rubbed a little bit raw. I’m glad for it, but simultaneously I’m also tempted to put up walls, if only to allow myself to breathe for a minute.
I imagine that I’m not the only one either.
Many of us are tired; tired of feeling sad, angry, divided, and flat out down and out. We know there are reasons to rejoice and celebrate, but it can be difficult to do that in the midst of all the recent horrors and realities that have begun to set in. We know that life is beautiful and that God is good, but we want to feel it in our bones and in our souls. We want to live, and we want to feel alive.
But how does one achieve that in light of tragedy, or reminders of what is and what isn’t? Is there a way to lean completely into one emotion without fully denying the others?
I don’t have a concrete answer, as this isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing. I am starting my gratitude lists up again in my journal, and am writing every chance I can get. I’m trying to focus on literally taking each day as it comes, balancing the desire to go with the flow while still being intentional about putting plans and ideas into action. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from the likes of Christmas Vacation or The Holiday, it’s to embrace the craziness and chaos instead of trying orchestrate a perfect anything. My life has always been somewhat unconventional, and it’s about damn time that I accept it. I can savor the joyous moments and soldier through the uncomfortable, knowing that it just comes with the territory of changes and new chapters and not knowing where the pieces will fall.
It’s not complicated, but I can’t pretend that it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. This is mostly because I am afraid; afraid of getting my hopes too high, of missing out, and saying or doing the wrong thing. It’s normal to be conscientious, but to practically walk on eggshells is an entirely different story. I am not responsible for other people’s opinions, and neither are you.
While it’s definitely getting cold outside, that’s not to say I should feel the same way in my heart. I don’t have a plan, and I’m not going to predict what may or may not happen. If they say merry is what you make it, then I’ll make mine as tangible, memorable, and as stress and worry-free as possible.
Let go, and Let God.