Updated: Jul 13
The Christmas season is upon us. It begins as soon as Halloween ends. Homes, stores and streets are decorated and glistening. There is a flood of Christmas music ringing in our ears. Churches are eagerly getting their Christmas concerts and events ready…this is the time of year churches will be full of believers and non-believers. This is the time of year some people want to believe in miracles.
It seems many of us are trying to find some meaning or a feeling to fill our emptiness over the season of hope we call Christmas.
As a child Christmas was a time that had all the trimmings, decorations, presents, music, cookies and Christmas cheer. We always had lots of cookies. Christmas also had something we didn’t talk about, something we hid and something we covered up. Something we stuffed down and didn’t talk about…but every Christmas it showed up, the unwelcome pain. This ugly secret we didn’t even feel, we learned to “feel better”. Once it happened, we acted like it never did. We had all become award winning actors. We coped by using the things we learned from our loved ones.
My mother did all she could to make this season one we could enjoy and cherish. She tried to make up for my father’s alcoholism. Christmas eve was the worst. There is trauma in this day for each one of us although our experiences were similar our feelings and reactions are unique.
As a married adult I struggled with the joy of Christmas and couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel the joy. I did all the things my mother did, I maxed our credit cards trying to make the season bright. All I felt after was the stress of having to pay off a moment that didn’t deliver. Each year seemed to get harder and harder to make the season bright.
One Christmas over 20 years ago I was sitting on the couch early in the morning, no one else was up. I was so upset, agitated and didn’t know why. I wanted that feeling of Christmas. My husband come out and brought me a coffee, hugged me and gave me a little box…a present. Now at this time we were struggling financially and presents weren’t going to be a thing for us…but there it was this inexpensive little ring with little diamond chips in the shape of a daisy. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen besides his face when he saw my tears. In that moment I realized Christmas was about so much more than a present or decorations or lights and cookies. That Christmas feeling, I was looking for was right in front of me and in my heart already. That moment changed everything for me.
“He puzzled and puzzled ‘til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” The Grinch ♡
The trauma and grief I felt over Christmas didn’t go away. I still struggle but I continue to work through the pain and trauma to letting go. Also realizing its okay to not love all the hustle and fuss of this season because its hard for me. I don’t have to pretend. I have moments of great joy and I have moments of sadness. I am allowed to share both with my closest people who I love and trust the most. My hope is I can continue to look for the special moments that mean a little bit more and share them. Spend extra time with my loved ones sharing my love and kindness. Also giving back to those in need how and when I can because Christmas means a little bit more.
Honour where you are right now. If you are experiencing grief or are struggling this season, please reach out to someone you trust and talk about it. If you need more help, I will share some information for you that might help.
1. Don’t expect the holiday to be perfect.
2. Acknowledge it is going to be different and hard.
3. If you want to hold onto some traditions that’s okay and if don’t that’s okay too.
4. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be “on” or “jolly” be honest and communicate what you need.
5. Get outside and take in some nature if you can.
6. Don’t feel guilty for feeling whatever you feel. It’s okay to feel sad or joyful or both.
7. Ask for help
Some places to get help online or in person:
Pine Integrated Health Centre is putting on “MANAGING STRESS, GRIEF, AND BOUNDARIES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. Dec 6, 2022 its virtual – it is a pay what you can workshop. Register at www.pinehealth.ca or call 587-855-5598.
The Grief and Trauma Healing Centre – Their vision is that everyone will have the tools to heal form loss and no one will grieve alone. They are therapists who specialize in Grief and trauma.
- Capilano 780-288-8011 email@example.com
- Orchards 780-288-8011 firstname.lastname@example.org
Some resources for Albertans available 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.
Emergencies: Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room
Distress Line: 780-482-HELP
Access 24/7: 780-424-2424
Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-303-2642
Substance Abuse Helpline: 1-866-332-2322
Health Link: 811 to speak with a registered nurse
Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-387-5437
Community, Social, Health, and Government Services: 211 or text INFO to 211