Family is defined by the online dictionary as a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household or all the descendants of a common ancestor. I call this the family of origin. That being said we live in a time where people create their family of choice as well as or instead of their family of origin.
This time of year is a warm loving time of forgiveness and family togetherness for many people. It is a time of when the family comes together, spends time and forges wonderful lasting memories. It is also a difficult time for many others. In my lifetime I have gone through this. The second group (my group) either has difficult families with addiction, abuse or even abandonment, or no family at all.
For the second group the expectations can focus on the ‘perfect’ Holiday. When relationships are strained, the focus can turn to perfectionism. The perfect tree, the perfect house, decorations, food, and appearances are substituted for real relating. Another group is the dysfunctional family, where there is addiction, abuse or strained relations. Dad isn’t talking to his son, mom and dad fight, the list of possibilities of this family is endless. It can run from cold to abusive. When addiction like alcoholism is involved it can be unbearable for the other family members. Trying to control the addict, never works. Then tempers flare and members fight. Another sect of the second group is extreme poverty. Where the hope of what you see others have is not even a possibility. The food is lean, there are no presents, and you feel isolated from the rest of society.
I have noticed as the second group grows up (of which I am a part of) and leaves home these imprints can leave lasting scars, so when Halloween is over the journey through Holiday alley is a forbidding and frightening walk. It seems to end on January 2nd the following year.
Those of us who are willing to work through their issues, can change this difficult time to something that can celebrated with joy, or at least joy in some part of the festivities. This has left me with a feeling of being a part ‘of’ the world. One of the best ways of changing the past is to accept it and work with your present. I say create a family of choice. This can be a group of friends you identify with, a church family or for me a recovery family.
Make sure the family is supportive to you and the experience is positive. Then work at creating your own ways of celebrating. Also there has to be some acceptance that the holidays are difficult for many people, not just you. Acceptance is this great door that unlocks the magic of God. It needs action afterward, it can’t just be acceptance. Accept what you feel, where you are. Then make good faith efforts to find like-minded people. It may take a while, but you can transform the holidays in to something of your own.
I have had some meaningful and beautiful holidays with friends and especially when I got in to recovery. My son was born Christmas day, and that has added a special element to the holiday. He never experienced the holidays I had, surrounded by people who loved him; his holidays have been filled with great memories. So make your Christmas what you want it to be. This year he wanted to volunteer to help others. Helping others is a completely amazing way to spend the holidays in service to others. So from me to you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, or your holiday in a way that feels meaningful for your present, not your past.