December 24 - If It's the Season to Be Jolly...Then Why Do I Feel So Sad?

Some experiences are indelibly imprinted on our minds. We all remember exactly where we were on September 11, 2001, for example, when we first heard about the tragic events of the day. Each year, as we approach that date, we feel the heartbreak of the families and the terror of a nation.

The same is true around the holidays. We remember a lifetime of those special experiences, if only on an unconscious level. I remember the first year after my father died and his chair was empty Christmas morning. I feel the tears now as I write this to you. It broke my heart that there was no stocking in his chair, that he would not be reading the complete directions to something as was his habit while we excitedly begged him to open the next gift.

I remember when I “knew” I would get this pink bicycle, and it turned out to be blue! I was so disappointed yet I didn’t want to appear ungrateful. I remember the tug of war going on inside of me.

I remember the holiday parties that my parents attended every year while I was at home alone listening to Christmas carols by myself, eating chocolate to numb the loneliness.

I remember the time I peeked at my Christmas presents and had to call Santa and apologize. I was terrified. And yet I kept on peeking, year after year. I just couldn’t seem to control my curiosity…or was it the seduction of immediate pleasure?!

I remember good times as well. I remember waking up Christmas morning hardly able to bear my excitement when I saw Santa’s cookie plate was empty. The stockings were always bulging with delightful promises…they were my favorite things to open!

I also remember the one party I was able to attend with my parents each year, and the small collectible doll to which I could always look forward as my gift. I was thoroughly delighted as I would don my party dress and carry the gift that contained my new “best friend.”

And, of course, I remember with a smile, as well as a tear, my father in his chair, reading the directions to the gift he had just opened. They were special mornings indeed…and now the memory of them brings to life the love I once thought I had lost…and now know that I never will.

So when I hear “Silent Night” or “Here Comes Santa Claus” I might feel great joy or deep sadness...or a combination of both…it all depends on where I happen to be in my memory bank. I imagine the same is true for you. So if you feel a little melancholy even though everything around you appears to be jolly, ask yourself what this moment might be reminding you of from your past. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that is trying to appear, for it is a precious snapshot of your life. Enjoy the opportunity to relive all of the moments of your past…for each one is truly a gift in itself.

This year, how can you create for your family the kind of memories that brought you joy long ago…and what can you learn from those where you felt sadness? Can you appreciate and acknowledge both the sadness and joy that each season of your life contains? Are you ready to peek at the gift inside of each of your emotional responses?

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