5 Things to Try: Choose Joy this Thanksgiving
The holidays are quickly approaching. Thanksgiving 2017 is days away, and Christmas will hit us before we even have a chance to forget all of the awkward questions we were asked at Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re anything like me, and I hope you’re not, you’ve experienced a great deal of grief since you last sat down to eat a holiday meal with family and friends. It’s devastatingly ironic how such a happy time to look forward to being around those we love can make us think back on holidays before, as we begin to miss those who are no longer with us. It’s not like this feeling is new to me. So many times I’ve seen loved ones spend their last holiday season with us, none of us aware that it would be their last. It sucks. It hurts. It exceeds the scale of unfairness. However, I’ve been pondering on ways that I can successfully make it through this year’s holiday festivities with a genuine smile on my face, and truly enjoy it like I normally do. I hope this helps you as well.
1. Think about what your lost loved ones would want. I have faith that I can speak for you as well when I say that anyone who I’m missing this holiday season would want me to enjoy life while it’s here, and to soak it up as much as I can. They wouldn’t want any of us sitting around and being sad and neglecting the festivities.
2. Remember your loved ones who are still here. This very thought in my mind has gotten me through the last month or so, and also in the past. It’s important to grieve those who we’ve lost, and to process those emotions, but we also must acknowledge the fact that we still have some pretty great people around us. There are friends and family who need us, and who we need as well. Plus, I’ve definitely learned the weight of thinking back and realizing how quickly someone can be taken away. Take in all the laughs, stories, and contagious smiles you can from those who are still with you. For me, that means listening to my Papa’s stories while I’m here with him, and giggling with my sweet nephews.
3. Participate as much as possible. Memories are made when we are in the action and contributing. Relax, take it in, and decide the best ways that you can involve yourself in your family's celebration of the holidays. It helps to utilize your talents and to do something you already love doing. What that looks like for me is helping my family cook, and baking some sweet treats for those who I love.
4. Acknowledge your emotions and process them. I definitely do not want to talk myself or any of you into putting a fake smile on your face, and pretending in order to make others happy this holiday season. The hurt is real, and it’s very present. When you start missing your loved ones who have already gone, give yourself time to work through those emotions. Tears do not equate weakness. Let it out, think about all of the good times you’ve had with them, and go make some cookies or whatever.
5. Speak kind words. This can go hand in hand with #2. Make sure you speak sweet words to those who you still have while you all still have each other. Tell grandma how much you love going to her house, and make sure everyone knows just how much you love them. This could even mean rethinking conflict you may have with family members and resolving it before any more years begin to pass. Also, please remember to speak kind words to those who you come in contact with that you don’t even know: the waitress/waiter, the cashier who checks out your Christmas shopping, and coworkers, etc. You never know if someone else could be experiencing loss this time of year, and even if they’re not just do it.
The point is: life is short. The weight of that old statement is so heavy, especially once you truly experience it. Have fun this year, and don’t forget to call up someone you love if you start getting down.