For the record, I love the holiday season. Mostly of late, I find comfort in remembering how I felt 40 years ago, doing my best to rekindle those feelings and that perspective of Christmas. I think we all need that. Why do I think we all need that? It’s where the magic comes from and because without it, many of us are left with far too much focus on the emptiness the holidays can bring in later years.
The holidays have a way of making adults evaluate their lives every year and sometimes not in a good way. By the time you’re 40, you’ve likely lost someone close to you that leaves a void during the holidays. You may struggle with providing your own children with holiday magic. Or maybe you simply get stuck with a bad case of the bah hum bugs. Regardless, once you let go of your child like tendencies and succumb to the pressures and stress that the holidays can bring, you may find yourself left with nothing but burden.
These past few years, I’ve tried harder to lose myself in the holiday world my children live in and focus on the positives. And for the most part I think I’m better for doing it. Our house is covered inside and out with Christmas lights. We’re baking cookies, decorating, playing holiday music, watching holiday movies and spending more time together. Does it make it more difficult when you’re divorced? Well, in a word yes, I think it does. But perhaps rather than difficult, maybe the better word is simply “different.”
The kids will define their childhood holidays by what they experience regardless of whether mom and dad are married or not. They, like others, may be dealing with the loss of a parent. Or perhaps their home is not a happy one to begin with. So any attempt we make to provide our kids with Christmas cheer and magic I think is a good thing. Let them hold on to it as long as possible. Give them something to carry with them when they’re older as a foundation of joy during a season that can be the basis of so much pain.
“What? Pain? It’s the holidays you fool!” Yeah, pain. The holidays can quite frankly be one of the most surfacy times of the year as we all put on our best face because no one can be glum during the holidays. Well, the reality is, the holidays are tough for everyone on some level. Some more than others. Work stress, family stress, spiritual stress (yes this is a thing), travel stress, “will they like what I got them” stress, “did I get them enough” stress, “did I not get them enough” stress, “did I get them too much” stress, missing loved ones stress. Look around you and I guarantee someone you know is struggling under the ugly Christmas sweater and festive lights.
Which is all the more reason to hold on to that foundation of childhood bliss if you’re fortunate enough to have it and even more of a reason to help build one for your own kid(s). It’s that ability to remember the blissful feeling gained from viewing the holidays through the eyes of a child. And guess what, if you’re a divorced dad (or mom), you’ve got at least one to live vicariously through. Try hard enough, and you may just get lost in the splendor that can be the holidays yourself.
If you really want to feel the magic of Christmas, welcome with open arms those you know may be struggling. Show your kids what the true meaning of Christmas and the holidays is about. In doing so you’ll make it one they’ll remember fondly for a life time.
Peace to you and your family this holiday season! Stay strong and stay positive!