This is the season where this truth seems to really hit us. It's when the families are gathering around the table and the decorations come out of the attic. All those memory triggers of holidays past reminds us of how things aren't what they used to be - and makes us wonder how much longer they will stay as they are. Memories of times gone by can make this season happier by discovering the richness of what we've developed in life, or sad when we consider what's lost. A lot is a matter of perspective. We all face growth and loss. It can be a tough emotional rollar coaster to deal with the satisfaction of great accomplishments mixed with the grief of those not here to celebrate with you.
All of this makes the holidays a complex time. Some people are better with dealing with change than others. There are those that adapt, adjust, and roll along, just happy to be where they are. And there are others that have a very hard time dealing with change and fight tooth and nail to keep things the same, even though it's apparant that the "old ways" won't work anymore. Invariably, it seems those types will be mixed within the same friend and/or family group. Oh, the cell phone conversations I overhear this time of the year!
I did a blog series last year on surviving the holidays and I believe the one key thing I kept coming back to was that if you're doing your best, then be satisfied with it. Other people have two choices: Take it or leave it. People may gripe (naturally), but in the end they usually settle down and decide the holidays will be merrier if they choose the path of acceptance over the path of resistance. In most cases, anyway (that's not to say there aren't some that thrive on conflict, but that is an issue I addressed in my blog series earlier this year on villians - I believe it was around Easter).
I'll add one more lesson I've discovered of late. You can't let other people or situations bother you. They're going to do what they're going to do, and it's a waste of emotional energy to let it fly all over you and go into a tizzy over. Likewise with situations - there are so many things you can't control, and to worry about it is a merry-go-round of defeat. Deal with situations the best way you can and move on. I recently realized that I wasted a great deal of time and emotional energy complaining and fretting over what other people do, and it's a 100% waste. They're gonna do what they're gonna do, and they aren't changing for anybody. So deal with them and the situations that come up in life the best you can, and move on. Worry, fussing, and fretting get you nowhere - it's action that counts. So spend your time thinking, reflecting and acting on what is, plan wisely, and trust that things will work out, or that you will know how to deal if a wrench flies into your plans.
Sometimes making the best of the holidays requires changing the way we think about things, and that can be hard. In fact, I believe that changing the way you think is the hardest thing you can do.But it can be done. I can tell you that from experience. I can also tell you that while it's hard, it's well worth it. Changing your life starts with changing how you think, and this holiday season might be the perfect time to make an early resolution that you aren't going to be consumed with stress, anxiety, grief, anguish, or fear over making it the perfect holiday. In fact, let's make Change #1 right now: Don't try to make it perfect. We live in an imperfect world, and an expectation like that will fail. Make it the best you can and decide you'll be happy with it.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that those of you on the road home today have safe travels. Here's hoping you have a good week, and welcome to the 2012 Holiday Season!