Holidays are not happy, family times for everyone

Posted by Retired Teacher @retiredteacher, Nov 20, 2019

This time of year from Halloween through New Year’s is not a happy time for everyone. It is not for me and my husband because we have no family. All the adds and activities that show families around the table chatting and talking and enjoying all the special food and fellowship just make it worse. It’s hard to have a glorious time because we’ve never experienced the family tradition. I prepare the traditional food, but there is no real celebration. I just want everyone to know that this time of year is not always what it’s advertised to be. It also brings depression and hurt and a feeling of being left out. However, it’s always been this way for my husband and me, so we are used to it. We don’t buy each other gifts, but choose a needy child and buy for that child. We prepare donations for the food banks in our area and try to do what we can to help those who have family but little else. I know there are other people like us, soI just wanted to remind others that not everyone has family to celebrate with. Rather than the jolly, we celebrate the spiritual aspect and welcome a new year.
Carol

@IndianaScott

I agree @retiredteacher good conversation. Personally, I've always looked forward to the holidays over the course of the year and while I miss my wife more than usual during them these days, I never realized how many folks are made miserable by them.

Good to know and now I'll be more inclined to keep my enjoyment and celebration of their meanings to myself.

Strength, courage, and peace

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@IndianaScott I don't think you should keep your holiday enjoyment to yourself. Spread the joy and maybe someone would see that the holidays are not always unhappy times. It depends on where we put the focus.
Carol

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@becsbuddy

@retiredteacher This is an excellent discussion to have. People seem to have crazy ideas about perfect families and there’s not a care in the world, but I think it can be a sad time for so many. Before I retired, I would volunteer to work (as a nurse) on Christmas Eve Or Day. It felt good to be able to give someone the day off. But, really, being at work in the hospital, was a great place to be. We had time to spend with those patients without families and to share with staff who also had no one. Now, with our sons away and with their own families, we build new traditions for us.

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@becsbuddy When I was in law enforcement, I usually took someone's shift if I was scheduled off at holidays, so they could be with family and children. When I was training racehorses on the racetrack, there was usually a special racecard on Thanksgiving, and the backstretch kitchen would put on a feast for everyone. Still giving as I can, in ways that I can.
Ginger

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@gingerw

@becsbuddy When I was in law enforcement, I usually took someone's shift if I was scheduled off at holidays, so they could be with family and children. When I was training racehorses on the racetrack, there was usually a special racecard on Thanksgiving, and the backstretch kitchen would put on a feast for everyone. Still giving as I can, in ways that I can.
Ginger

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Hi @gingerw, wow…..what a helpful mission. I would love the racehorses. What came to me was the need to focus on shelter dogs. I created an event titled “Christmas Eve for the animals” to bring more attention to their need for a forever home.

As the years progressed folks would bring their adopted dogs back for a bit of a meetup with others from prior years. Their stories encouraged more to consider adoption. Sort of like a special “Connect”.

So are you cooking for a crowd on Thanksgiving? Hope someone is cooking for you. Chris

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@retiredteacher

@contentandwell My husband and I will be alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that is the usual routine. You are blessed that both of your children want to come and you can enjoy everything together. We don't have that so it's always just the two of us. I would love to be able to work at a food kitchen and help feed the homeless, but my husband and I are not able to do that. So we do what we can and enjoy being together. We do decorate and have holiday décor that makes the holidays happier.
Carol

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@retiredteacher , Hi there Carol. It is great that you have each other. On Thanksgiving, for years, I had an Orphan’s dinner. Anyone who didn’t have someone could come.

Once a friend brought his aging father who had just lost his wife. Another time a young lady offered to bring the potatoes. She showed up with a bag of them. So, we helped her learn how to peel and cook potatoes.

It was a joyous day until someone spilled a Bloody Mary on my grandmother’s tablecloth that took her 20 years to embroider. So we practiced forgiveness. There is lots to learn, to share, and to enjoy. Be at peace and with renewed health
Chris

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@gingerw

@helenfrances Having no regrets is the life to strive for. And kudos to you to invite those who may be alone or want company. This will be our first holiday season in this little town. My husband is due up here tomorrow morning for a week. We haven't decided what we will do, yet.
Ginger

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@gingerw Whatever you do, I hope it is a nice Thanksgiving. You and your husband have a lot to be thankful for with your new home in an area that you love, and you have each other of course. I don't love going to my step-son's home for the holiday but it is important for my husband so I do it. I would much prefer to go to NYC and spend the holiday with my daughter and her husband. We may go on Friday for the weekend.
I generally bring a dessert and an appetizer and this year I will bring my homemade cranberry sauce too. My son made it for a "friendsgiving" they had last weekend and will bring to someone else's home for Thanksgiving so he made me want it. It really is good – very tart.

@artscaping That's so funny, that someone brought raw potatoes! I read recently that if you are asked to bring paper goods you know you are not a good cook! One time a friend was going to an associate's home for Thanksgiving and asked what she could bring. The other woman said the turkey! So, she did.
JK

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@artscaping

@retiredteacher , Hi there Carol. It is great that you have each other. On Thanksgiving, for years, I had an Orphan’s dinner. Anyone who didn’t have someone could come.

Once a friend brought his aging father who had just lost his wife. Another time a young lady offered to bring the potatoes. She showed up with a bag of them. So, we helped her learn how to peel and cook potatoes.

It was a joyous day until someone spilled a Bloody Mary on my grandmother’s tablecloth that took her 20 years to embroider. So we practiced forgiveness. There is lots to learn, to share, and to enjoy. Be at peace and with renewed health
Chris

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What great stories about previous Thanksgivings, @artscaping. I especially like the one about the young lady who brought the sack of potatoes! I won't forget that one soon, I appreciate the smile for today.

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@contentandwell

@gingerw Whatever you do, I hope it is a nice Thanksgiving. You and your husband have a lot to be thankful for with your new home in an area that you love, and you have each other of course. I don't love going to my step-son's home for the holiday but it is important for my husband so I do it. I would much prefer to go to NYC and spend the holiday with my daughter and her husband. We may go on Friday for the weekend.
I generally bring a dessert and an appetizer and this year I will bring my homemade cranberry sauce too. My son made it for a "friendsgiving" they had last weekend and will bring to someone else's home for Thanksgiving so he made me want it. It really is good – very tart.

@artscaping That's so funny, that someone brought raw potatoes! I read recently that if you are asked to bring paper goods you know you are not a good cook! One time a friend was going to an associate's home for Thanksgiving and asked what she could bring. The other woman said the turkey! So, she did.
JK

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@contentandwell and @artscaping Not sure what we will do this year. It will depend on the weather. We may be headed for rain and snow showers on Wed/Thurs. If so, it will be probably be spent here at the house, since the passes going either direction may not be safe even with snow tires or chains. This year I got snow socks for my car.
Ginger

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@gingerw

@contentandwell and @artscaping Not sure what we will do this year. It will depend on the weather. We may be headed for rain and snow showers on Wed/Thurs. If so, it will be probably be spent here at the house, since the passes going either direction may not be safe even with snow tires or chains. This year I got snow socks for my car.
Ginger

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@gingerw I am dreading snow and ice this year. I guess that’s a sign of getting old.
JK

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Hi All:

I just saw this article in a Mayo Clinic email newsletter and thought you all might find it helpful. It's titled, "Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping." Here is the article.

The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it's no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression/ When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

Donate to a charity in someone's name.; Give homemade gifts.; Start a family gift exchange.; Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions: Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.; Get plenty of sleep.
Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include: Taking a walk at night and stargazing. Listening to soothing music. Getting a massage. Reading a book.

Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Take control of the holidays. Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

As my mom died just a couple of days ago, on the afternoon of Thanksgiving, I'm thinking of how I can approach the upcoming holidays with optimism and energy. My take-aways from this article are to "acknowledge my feelings" and allow myself to feel grief and loss and not try to "force myself to feel happy."

After reading this, what are your "take-aways?" What can you do to make the holidays less stressful?

REPLY
@hopeful33250

Hi All:

I just saw this article in a Mayo Clinic email newsletter and thought you all might find it helpful. It's titled, "Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping." Here is the article.

The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it's no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression/ When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

Donate to a charity in someone's name.; Give homemade gifts.; Start a family gift exchange.; Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions: Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.; Get plenty of sleep.
Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include: Taking a walk at night and stargazing. Listening to soothing music. Getting a massage. Reading a book.

Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Take control of the holidays. Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

As my mom died just a couple of days ago, on the afternoon of Thanksgiving, I'm thinking of how I can approach the upcoming holidays with optimism and energy. My take-aways from this article are to "acknowledge my feelings" and allow myself to feel grief and loss and not try to "force myself to feel happy."

After reading this, what are your "take-aways?" What can you do to make the holidays less stressful?

Jump to this post

Thanks @hopeful33250 I tend to try to do too much so I need to learn to step back a bit. I plan to go back and read this thoroughly.
JK

REPLY

Sadly, having family does not always guarantee holiday involvement and joy. Members can be estranged. Siblings can harbor jealousies and resentments of one another that spill into and detract from holiday spirit. Many may agree that one happy couple — rather than a menagerie of folks with issues — may be all that’s needed under your Christmas tree. Blessings of the season to everyone!

REPLY
@annedodrill44

Sadly, having family does not always guarantee holiday involvement and joy. Members can be estranged. Siblings can harbor jealousies and resentments of one another that spill into and detract from holiday spirit. Many may agree that one happy couple — rather than a menagerie of folks with issues — may be all that’s needed under your Christmas tree. Blessings of the season to everyone!

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@annedodrill44 We each have our family and our family of choice. Some people have them as the same group. Holidays can be stressful enough without having issues with our dealings with people! I much prefer one-on-one or very small groups at any time of year. It's easier to deal with that way. And I don't have time for those who won't respect me. They go on to the "naughty" list.
Ginger

REPLY
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