“Tis the season to be jolly,” chime the carols. I hear it, I know it, I want to be jolly, but I don’t quite feel it this year. I used to love the holidays. After spending many of my adult years living in a country that didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas, I cherish the sweetness of my American traditions. It reminds me of my childhood and the traditions that my family grew up celebrating: advent calendars, choosing the right tree, Bing Crosby on the record player, then the tape deck, hanging the stockings, writing our lists for Santa (even long after we knew the truth), baking cookies with my mom, helping my dad with the lights.
But holiday memories of joy have a festered into a heart-breaking reminder that yet another year has passed and my husband and I will be celebrating a child-centered holiday without little ones. Holidays usually filled with happiness are often reminders of empty rooms, lack of childlike magic of the season, and reminders everywhere I turn that yet again, another year has passed with no children or pregnancy. I hear the carols, I see the lights, I feel the pace of the Christmas culture around me but something inside my heart isn’t in the celebrating mood.
This year, instead of pretending the holidays aren’t a reminder of what we don’t have, I’m planning ahead. I’ve created a list of survival tips for myself to help heal my empty heart and help me rekindle the magic of one of my favorite seasons.
Survival tip number one: Plan Plenty of Fun
I’ve already planned a December shopping spree, a massage, a cookie exchange, and a night out with my husband at our favorite restaurant. Keeping busy keeps me from feeling down and feeling like the holidays have to be child-centered.
Survival tip number two: Remember the Reason for the Season
Even if you are not religious, the holiday season is about celebrating the relationships that you love. For me, enjoying time with family and wonderful friends is a reminder that someday I will be bringing a baby into an amazing network of people that I love.
Survival Tip Number Three: Plan a January Get-Away
This year I thought it would uplift my mood to have something wonderful to look forward to after the holidays. I decided to plan a long weekend getaway for mid-January. Now we have something to look forward to as a “reward” for surviving the holiday season.
Survival Tip Number Four: Ask for what you need
Instead of assuming that my family and friends will be sensitive to the fact that I’m sad about celebrating a milestone of another year passing without us achieving our goal of starting a family, I’ll just tell them how I feel. I know I’ll need some space and a little extra sensitivity to ease the joy out of my broken heart this year. I know that joy is down in my heart and with a little planning, I think I can find a way to be jolly this season.
What survival tips do you have for handling with the holiday season and rekindling joy when you are not feeling particularly joyous? How do you keep the hope and jolliness of Christmas alive when times are tough?