Do you hear that sound? What sound, you ask? The sound of calm after the holidays. The moment when we realize the guests have left and the errands are complete. The moment when we finally look around and notice all we have missed while immersed in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holiday.
Personally, the days immediately following New Years Day are mixed emotion days for me. The first couple weeks of January I relax in the glow of Christmas and the expectation of new beginnings. Yet, intermingled amidst my joyous feelings there is a feeling of sadness as I realize that the holiday season has ended as “normal” life returns. Since the time when I was a young child I have loved the period from Halloween to New Years because of the festivities, the traditions, the foods, smells, sights, etc. Yet it seems that as soon as Halloween is upon us, in a flash, we are past New Years Day! As I sit writing this post I wonder where it all went. I think back to the preparations, excitement, anticipation, expectation, then the joy of Christmas’ arrival … now what? As I sit here and reflect I wonder what’s left? How did this season get away from me so quickly?
I don’t believe that I am alone in my emotions, nor do I need to be a counselor to understand the rationale for why many of us feel down after the holidays. Here are some actions I do for myself to cope with my feelings this time of the year. I hope they will help you, too:
- Spend a moment each day closing your eyes, slowing your breath, and focus on your feelings. Whatever you are feeling, feel it, reflecting on the origin of the feeling.
If you find yourself experiencing the holiday blues, don’t hide those feelings nor ignore them. Acknowledge them to yourself and others. Many people are feeling the same way.
Recall the parties, family gatherings, people you met, family members with whom you reconnected. Recall the memories, not in a perspective of “it’s over”, but in the perspective that it happened. How did those encounters affect you or change you? What can you take away from these encounters? Might you have made new friendships? Connect with the new friend. Did you meet distant family members? Develop a plan to stay in touch in a meaningful way.
Recall your fondest and favorite memories of this holiday season. How do those memories make you feel? Take that feeling and find a way to make the feeling last into the new year.
Make a conscious effort to find a way to make Christmas, its spirit and meaning, last into the new year. If we can do that then there is no longer a need for the holiday blues since the holiday will never truly end.
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Marvin New Year’s comic strip 2014
Happy New Year 2016!! As I reflect on writing this post I realize that this time last week I gathered with family and friends to enjoy Christmas Day, while just last night I joined with family and friends watching the Times Square ball descend into a new year. A lot seems to happen in a short time during the holiday season. But what does it all mean? As I relax with a good cup of coffee on this first morning of the new year, I reread this Marvin comic I came upon a couple of years ago as I feel it’s still perfect for today! When you think about it, what makes this morning any different from yesterday’s morning? It feels the same; I’m doing the same things, the people around me are the same, the scenery is the same, and yes, the smell is the same. But I am told it is the start of a new year! New beginnings from old. New opportunities and adventures! Ahhhh….. the promise of new. But it doesn’t feel new. Does it feel or smell new to you? What is different today from yesterday? So, if this new year still “smells” like last year should I feel cheated out of that new car smell experience?
One of the reasons for this comic’s relevance is that many of us place too high of expectations on ourselves, especially this time of the year. I am not saying that this is not a fine time for resolutions. Of course it is! But are your resolutions and expectations reasonable? Challenging oneself can be a growth opportunity since through challenges, struggles, ups and downs, your goal may be achieved! Go for it! But what if you found yourself wanting more once you realized the new year didn’t smell any different from the old? What if you realize nothing has changed? For too many of us this is what happens along our journey. We expected a particular day to be one way, and when it wasn’t we were disappointed. But was your expectation realistic?
In a few days (January 6) I will be recalling the moment when the wise men arrived at the end of their journey searching for the newborn king, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. As with the wise men, when we journey toward our God, toward inner-peace, we can’t help but be changed. When we truly seek to find greatness, we can’t help but to be changed by the greatness we sought. How often do we feel disappointment at our journey’s end and respond by turning around and going home? What if the wise men did the same? They went beyond their own expectations and were open to a new way of looking at things. They didn’t act upon what they thought, rather, they looked more deeply at the situation and recognized that their expectations were not correct. Yes, it was a mighty king they found, but not how they imaged Him. Yet that didn’t matter. They learned to look at situations differently, not just from their own perspective It is that shift in perceiving and thinking which allowed them to understand the present moment, and to be changed by the experience.
In this new year, when our experiences don’t smell as they “should” (according to how I feel they should smell), try to take a moment and look at your situation, the new year, and find the deeper reality. Look beyond yourself to other possibilities. Challenge yourself to learn something new about this world around us. And in so doing, I have no doubt that your life’s journey will begin to take a new path.
May you all have a happy and blessed New year, filled with many new paths, adventures, and even new smells.
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