‘Tis the season to… Argue with the in-laws? Express your gratitude to loved ones? Panic about gift-giving? Feel lonely? Perhaps even be jolly? Almost all of us have a special bunch of feelings that come out around the holidays – sometimes good and sometimes bad.

For me the holidays have always been difficult. Like everyone I get stressed out, but it goes a bit deeper in that I feel pulled in a dozen different directions – none of which I have any control over. This feeling of a lack of control (due to family commitments, work obligations, and my own self-imposed commitments) often engender feelings of resentment and anger.

Please don’t be deceived into thinking that my ease in naming the problem translates into ease of creating a solution. In the moment when it’s happening, it’s more difficult to name the truth. I blame my Grinch-like attitude on other, more easily-named perpetrators. “American consumerism has corrupted the holiday!” and “If I hear Frosty the Snowman one more time I’m going to scream!” Although these complaints are founded in some truth and they do bother me, they’re not what’s directly responsible for my mood. They’re scapegoats.

We at CLE put on an event last week called the Holiday Presence to focus on being present and engaged this holiday season. Rich Blue spoke about the difference between content and process. In conversation content refers to the facts – the what. Process on the other hand refers to what’s going on underneath the surface – it’s the why and the how. I complain about the weather and Woodfield Mall during holiday conversations because it feels much safer than discussing my various insecurities. Although it makes me feel safer in the moment, it also has a way of leaving me hungry. I’ve had a conversation with a human being that I could have had with my sister’s yorkie-poo just the same. I wasn’t real or authentic. I was hiding.

I’m working more and more on coming out of hiding. I’ll keep trying to take risks and seek the real reward – deep, satisfying, and fulfilling relationships with those around me. What could be better?

 

And speaking of American consumerism ruining the holiday, check out my favorite Christmas-themed documentary! Ho Ho Ho!

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