Do You Feel Like “Skipping Christmas?”

December 22, 2009 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

Some holiday seasons are tougher than others. As caregivers, and for those who struggle with depression or have recently lost loved ones or their loved ones are in hospice, the holidays are bitter-sweet. Several caregivers I’ve talked to lately have shared they’d really rather “skip” Christmas this year. It isn’t because they’re all Scrooges. It’s because it hurts. So is it okay to skip Christmas?

Sometimes we just have to take a break. Sometimes we need to grieve, it’s part of the journey to healing. But another way to look at it is only do the things that bring you a sense of peace or happiness. That’s your barometer. While your heart may be aching and you’re exhausted beyond measure, and you may feel like you’d rather just ignore the whole thing, you may find a few ways that the holiday season will actually bring comfort to our lives. 

First, make a list of what you definitely want to skip. Does a tree sound like too much work. Nix it. Do you like candles on your mantle and that doesn’t feel too Christmas-y? Then light some candles. Do cards feel like a giant never-ending to do list? Let it go.  Is it painful to gather with family? Ask for a rain check and invite a friend to dinner–go Italian or take a cruise–something different that doesn’t remind you of the past. Many people spend Christmas alone and would love the invite.

Then find one thing you want to do–Christmas, Chanukah or holiday related–or not. If you need to get your watch fixed, put it on the list. If you want to see snow, then put it on the list. One item is enough. Part of the holiday conundrum is that it’s overwhelming–so simplify.

If you’re inundated with thoughts of your loved one, then write them a letter. Share your heart. Tell them where you’re at and that you miss them. Ask them to help you–give you strength. It’s okay to talk to your loved one even though they’ve passed away. That doesn’t make you crazy. Talk to them while you’re in the car or when you’re on a walk. Ask them for guidance. Tell them that the holidays are hard. Maybe a good talk is just what you need.

If you’ve already skipped a couple of Christmas’s, then it might be time to re-engage. Once we get out of the habit of celebrating and gathering with family, we forget how to jump back in–it’s like double-dutch–our timing feels off. Yes, it might still hurt–but it can also feel good at the same time. Gather with family and friends, lift a glass of wine and be grateful for the people in your life–those who have gone before–and those who are still here. Sometimes we have to make ourselves get back in the swing of life.

 It’s going to be uncomfortable and awkward at first, but you just might find yourself sitting in front of a fire, working on a crossword puzzle, sipping cider and looking around the room at loved ones and realize that you really are starting to feel better.

Just like in hop-scotch. Skipping means that eventually you have to land.

Entry filed under: caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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