A letter to the one who’s a little nervous about the holidays this year

Good morning,

It has been socially acceptable to play Christmas music for almost a month. Trees are decorated in all kinds of glitter and glam. Families are frantically searching shopping malls for the best gifts for their loved ones.

And you feel alone.

Hot chocolate is brewing and Starbucks is killing the Christmas drink game this year. The festivals and Christmas markets are around every corner. Social media is flooding with Instagram models telling you how to dress, what to buy, and showing pics of their decor.

And you feel anxious.

Your family and friends have invited you to a hundred Christmas parities, and you’ve been assigned a few dishes to bring along with gifts for the kids at the party.

But money is tight. So you feel stretched.

Everyone is just so jolly and happy, and you don’t know how to smile without crying because the grandparent who hugged you last year won’t be there this year.

And you feel like crawling in a ball and staying their forever.

You’re expecting to see everyone you’ve ever known this holiday season. Everyone is looking so great and doing so well, but you’re in sort of a weird place right now. Everyone has babies and spouses and utter happiness that you just don’t really have right now. And the thought of seeing all these people and answering all of their questions seems too much to handle.

And you are scared.

There are so many scenarios like these that people are experiencing in the days that lead up to what truly is the most incredible day of the year. And I get it.

The first Christmas after my grandma died, I didn’t want to be there.

The year when my anxiety was completely out of control and I could barely think, I didn’t want to be there.

The year when I had just come back from my first missions trip and looked poverty in the face, the last place I wanted to be was in the middle of a living room floor opening presents.

So many people have so many *totally legit* reasons for not wanting to be at Christmas this year, and I get it. As much as I absolutely LOVE Christmas, I really understand what it’s like to just not feel it. This year, I’m ready. I’m excited. I want to be with my friends and family more than anything.

And I know that may not be where your head is right now.

So my encouragement to you is to take a day, or an hour, or an evening. Take whatever time you can spare and start working it out. Develop a game plan. Pray about it. Figure out why exactly you aren’t feeling up to celebrations this year.

Is it grief?

Is it social anxiety?

Is it feelings of inadequacy?

Are you just plain tired?

Are you avoiding someone?

Are you embarrassed over something?

Start with these questions, and if you don’t get any answers, move onto these: who, what, when, why, where? I know. It sounds silly. But when I’m in a bad headspace, I use the 5 W’s to pinpoint my issue. You can ask them lots of different ways, but here are a few I have tried.

Who – who is making you feel bad? Who is in control of your feelings? (You) who have you reached out to?

What – what has happened recently to make you feel this way? What happened last year? And what’s the worst that could happen this year?

When – when did you start feeling this way? When do you need a plan for? When are you expecting things to get worse?

Why – why are you feeling this way? (Obvious) why do you think you have to have it all together?

Where – where would you rather be?

Usually once you start asking yourself all these questions, you can get down to the route of the issue, unless it’s something really deep rooted that might require a bit more help. In my experience with holiday celebrations that I just wasn’t ready for, nothing bad ever happened.

The Christmas after my grandma died, everyone else was feeling the pain too. And it made us a little closer, and when we were all together, we felt a little stronger. And we remembered her and honored her together.

The Christmas when my anxiety took a really hard turn in a bad direction, things ended up okay. And I hate to say this, but looking back, I can see that a lot of it was in my head. Also, my fear was that I wouldn’t be able to step away when I needed to, and that never happened.

And the year after my first missions trip, it was hard. But people understood. They loved on me, and they helped me with the reverse culture shock.

In every scenario, my fears ended up only being in my head. None of them came true, and things were fine. Christmas time is one of my favorite times because you get the chance to see people you don’t always see. You can check in and just see how everyone’s doing and love on each other.

And all those questions you are about to answer by friends and cousins and uncles and granny’s, they come from a place of love. They just want to know what is happening in your world. It’s your chance to tell them. And you’re in control of what you say. If things aren’t going well at work, and if you don’t want to talk about it, don’t talk about work. Talk about an area where things are going well – your church, school, your sport, a new friend, idk, talk about something you want to talk about.

If you have any reservations about the holidays this year, I’m not gonna tell you to ignore them. You should explore them. Consider what and why they are there, and then ask the question, what’s the worst that could happen? And in my experience, it usually doesn’t happen.

Be safe my friends, and hang in there! You are absolutely not alone. You might be a stressed out little cookie. You might be tired, sad, discouraged, a lot of things… but you are not alone.

Merry Christmas 🎄

– the Wife

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