I thought about whether or not to write this today, thinking it might be too cynical to be honest during the one time of the year when most people feel the most cheerful. Then I thought, "screw it, go ahead!" Not all of us come from perfect families and wonderful childhoods. We aren't all happy during the holidays.
I don't know why our culture crams joyfulness down our throats during the darkest time of the year. Seriously, I'm not making it up. It's a scientific fact that on December 21st, the sun reaches its farthest southward point. At winter solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year, thus darkness.
I'd rather hibernate than decorate a tree or shop for presents. The holiday season gives me two things: anxiety and stress. I don't think I'm alone on this. The more I try to be like everyone else - playing Christmas music, rushing around from store to store, decorating my place with lights, garland and ornaments and mailing out Christmas cards - the more depressed I become. (God forbid I should forget to send a card to that person - who was it again?)
Holidays can bring out the worst in people. It's not fun for me to remember past Christmases. Now, not all of them were horrible. Some were downright pleasant, like my kids' first Christmases, or that one where I got exactly what I wanted when I was a little kid. Or that year that my husband and I decided to stay home and spend Christmas day with the kids, go to the park and throw a football around with them, eat a meal we prepared together and watch movies all night long.
But the pressure of keeping up with society's idea of what Christmastime should be, pushes me further and further into frustration and exhaustion. I'm not a consumer. I don't shop at malls or big box-stores. I'm not one of those people who joins the hordes at the Walmart doors just before midnight on Thanksgiving night to get the best deals on the latest and greatest junk that no one really cares about.
I remember the last Christmas I spent with my dad, just weeks before he committed suicide. I remember the first Christmas after my divorce, and how I couldn't afford much for my kids. I remember harsh words from alcoholic family members, and feeling less-than, not good enough and crawling back into bed to sleep all day. I remember shopping till I couldn't move anymore, wrapping gifts into the wee hours of Christmas Eve night and attempting to cook the perfect homemade meal, only to be criticized and judged.
For those who are like me - the misfits of dysfunctionality - fear not! We don't have to fall into the false belief that the holidays will make us feel better, bond families and cure all. (If they do for you, hallelujah!) It is totally okay to not feel jolly. Here's what I do (and maybe it'll work for you):
I take care of me first. What does that mean?
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate and survive the holidays. Peace to you during this, the darkest time of the year.
Monday, November 27th, 2017
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Some days are just damn hard. The world around us seems to be falling apart. Today felt like one of those days. I don't read newspapers and I haven't watched TV in over 10 years. I glance over news topics on social media, but sometimes it's unavoidable. I won't go into the details of the day - shootings, politics, deaths of celebrities - doesn't really matter what it is. For me, today was overwhelming.
I believe there are those of us who love humanity. We see beyond the troubles and tribulations. Life wasn't designed to be fair, although we wish it was. We love, we feel, we keep living one day at a time. Trying to figure out the meaning of why I'm here drove me crazy, so I stopped doing that a long time ago.
People die. That's just a part of life. It doesn't seem fair to us who are left behind. We miss them, we mourn for them. It's easy to become resentful, but what does that get us besides bitter and angry? This world is a tragically brutal place, and yet it can be the most beautiful of places too. Violence and destruction are real. Is there a way to stop it? I doubt it.
Yet, I watched the sunset tonight and marveled at the brilliant colors, and fell deep into the vivid pinks and violets. I felt the cool evening breeze flow through my hair, the smell of fall is in the air. I listened to coyotes in the distance, calling to each other as the sun fell behind the mountain. I am here, now, in this moment. I grasp for whatever reminders bring me comfort, like the touch of a child's hand; the loving embrace of someone dear to me; a song sung by someone I love; a walk hand-in-hand with a best buddy; and making a meal together with friends. Now as the day comes to a close, I'm grateful, for tomorrow is a new day, and with the sunrise comes hope and possibility. May we all sleep soundly, and cry, and laugh, and reach out to those whom we love and cherish. For even tomorrow is uncertain, and all we have is now.
As I crawl into bed, tired and battered from this day, I think of you and where you are. I miss you, and I love you too.
From the journal of Zushka.
Monday, October 2nd, 2017
I am living the dream, one day at a time, and sharing my experiences with you.
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