Christmas lights are going up.
People are buying holiday gifts.
There’s a million articles about decorating a Thanksgiving or Christmas table.
And, everywhere you turn it’s all about the holidays.
But, your heart hurts.
You don’t want it to feel that way, and there’s even some guilt that it does.
But it does.
And, I get it.
While holidays are a beautiful time of celebration, love, reflection, gratitude and family, it’s also a reminder for many that family no longer looks the way it once did.
Maybe you lost your mother or father this year.
Perhaps your sister can’t afford to travel in this year.
Or maybe there was a huge family blow-up and half the family is no longer talking.
There’s a million scenarios that can make it difficult to look forward to the holidays.
I know it does for me.
I want to love all of the holidays. I really want to love them for my kids.
But my family at the holidays doesn’t look like what it once did, even just from a few years ago.
It started with my dad.
He died three years ago this December. His birthday is also in December. It’s a rough month.
He’s not there for me to yell at him to not eat the entire cheese platter, or see his grand kids grow up. Man, he’d love who they are becoming.
My gram, who passed away in May, isn’t there with one of her famous dishes. She has many.
I know I should be grateful for who is at the table.
Because I’m so lucky and grateful my mom lives close by and can be at all of the celebrations.
My other gram also lives close and so much fun.
And, we thankfully have Adam’s mom and dad, and one of his grandparents, too.
I know it’s more than many have; that’s not lost on me.
But when your heart hurts, it hurts.
And the holidays are a reminder of what I can ignore during the day to day.
Unless you live with someone it’s often easy to go about your day and push out those feelings, pretending things out of your head to ease the pain.
But holidays bring it all back into focus.
When I shared on Instagram about missing my dad in a major way on some random Tuesday, so many of you replied that you’re in a similar place.
On any random day.
The emotions often come when you least expect it.
So I’m sharing today’s post — not for pity — but to remind you that even amidst the joy, I get and feel your pain this holiday season.
I’m here with you. You are not alone, even on days when it feels like you are.
And if you sympathize but aren’t in the same place, I promise you that you have a friend or loved one who does.
Thank you for reading this to try to appreciate this place of emotion.
Be kind to them, and to strangers around you.
We never know what someone is going through.
Let someone go ahead in traffic, hold the door open, pay it forward with coffee, understand there could be something deeper if someone is curt with you, and be extra kind and patient.
Find a way to bring light to your holiday season, and others.
And, equally don’t feel you need to hide your hurt. Cry, be angry, lay in bed and watch a movie.
Your holiday table might not look the way it once did — or the way you envision — but it doesn’t mean you can’t change that vision.
I saw a friend on Facebook post, “Do we have any friends with no Thanksgiving plans? We are doing it up for our first Thanksgiving in our new home… but it feels wasteful only for our family.”
I don’t know her well enough to know where her family is from, who they have with them or any pain she’s holding, so I don’t know what her vision five years ago looked like.
But it’s clear she is creating a new vision for what her Thanksgiving table will look like this year, and for many years to come.
Our visions often do not meet up with reality.
But maybe, just maybe, one day — if you put yourself out there with an open heart and re-envision what the holidays could be — you can learn to look forward to them again.