As Thanksgiving commenced and we marched steadfast into the holiday season I was struck by the duality of feeling. The season's merriment and excitement inspired a giddiness inside me while a heaviness also descended. Life, I have come to discover, especially over the past five years, is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it is almost unbearably difficult. We are surrounded by both beauty and pain. And for many, while we may wish it were otherwise, the holidays provides a time where this is blatantly obvious.
Some of my favorite things about this time of year include colder weather lending to fuzzy garments and hot beverage sipping while cozied up surrounded by twinkling lights and the lilt of sentimental music. Some of my least favorite things about this time of year is experiencing moments I love and knowing there are people missing from sharing them with me. Whether it's my father who passed a few years ago, family who now live out of state, or simply wishing I had a special someone in my life to cuddle with in front of the fire doesn't matter- there are feelings of longing and loss and sadness that accompanies these pleasures, too.
I know there's a sense for some that December, especially, is all about merriment. In truth, the holiday spirit is whatever you are feeling. There is no right or wrong here. No matter what the tunes on the radio sing, it may not feel completely like a holly jolly Christmas. And it is utterly and undoubtedly ok. One can feel both joy and sadness simultaneously. I intend to find that elusive balance of honoring the pain while not allowing it to dim my happiness. I'm not perfect and some days (or weeks or months) are a struggle. But one thing I have come to find in life, is that as experiences deepen my feeling of pain, so too, do they expand my ability for joy. Amidst the longing of those not with me are the moments of connection that the contrast can't help but amplify with delight. Listening to holiday music while trimming the tree, mulled wine and face masks with a new and already dear friend, dance parties with soul sisters until midnight, hours long conversations about what we really want in life, eating fresh mini donuts and watching kids gleefully sled down a hill of snow while overlooking the ocean (paradoxical but true- eh, life!). The trick for me is to allow everything, feel each and every emotion that comes my way, and know that life includes both painful heartache and heart-bursting joy. For those moments of beauty and happiness become ever sweeter in light of it all.
So as we finish out these last few weeks of the year, honoring the changing seasons at the solstice, and the new decade on the horizon, please be gentle with yourself. My wish for you is to allow and not resist, tempting as it is. Don't be harsh when you're not feeling or experiencing what society or others say you should be. Whether it's all merry and bright or a very dark and silent night, feel it, honor it, and find your true holiday spirit this season. I promise you, no matter what that may be, you are not alone.