As December approached, my usual dread of Christmas began seeping in like the ominous fog in a scary movie. It has a skin-crawling sensation to it and I’ve imagined myself holding onto November by the fingernails, trying to evade December’s pull.
Usually I keep quiet about my “bah-humbug” tendencies because I genuinely don’t want to ruin the holidays for anyone, nor be seen as trying to spoil it for others in some way.
However, it does a disservice to me to suffer in silence and so this year I decided to add my voice to the pre-Christmas conversation by speaking honestly about what I think and feel about the annual festivities. I told a client that Christmas Day is difficult for me (as it is for her apparently). I told my networking group that it’s not my thing (and found out that each of us has a holiday we dislike). The more I talked about it, in fact, the more I learned.
Here’s what else I’ve discovered while speaking honestly about my Christmas dread:
- I have good reasons to dread Christmas and through talking about these with family and friends, I was able to take these reasons seriously and become more compassionate with myself and others.
- Once I’ve done the majority of my Christmas shopping and planning for events, I actually feel more relaxed and prepared to enjoy the time off after the big day. My dread decreases slightly.
- Everyone else starts flaking off in December which makes work seem less critical and intense. There’s a welcome lightness to the business environment.
- I still love watching certain Christmas movies, and no amount of dread will take that away from me. Here are my favourites: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch That Stole Christmas (old or new version), The Polar Express, Elf. I happened upon the original “Miracle on 34th Street” the other day and was delighted to watch it for the first time.
- The more I share my opinion about Christmas, the more I am able to appreciate the things I do like about the season, i.e. the lights on my neighbour’s houses, giant blow-up Santas on their lawns, receiving Christmas cards in the mail, preparing to host dinner, my anticipation in seeing the first few flakes of snow…
In this way, my experience of Christmas and the holiday season isn’t ruined by trying to hide my real thoughts and feelings about them. In fact, the more honest I am, the more opportunities and possibilities to enjoy the last month of the year arise. That approach probably holds true in most situations, and I invite you to be courageous and admit what you’re thinking and feeling (in trusted spaces or with people who won’t judge) at this time. Just imagine what you might learn.
For your own reflection:
- What do you really think and feel about this time of year?
- How do you expect people to perceive you if you’re honest about these thoughts/feelings?
- What real-life examples can you think of where being honest paid off?