This time of year can be really difficult for some of us. The music, the cheer, the food and traditions can all act as triggers. For many of us who are keeping up the smiling façade for the rest of our friends, but mostly for our children, the holidays can be very painful under that smiling mask.
6 Reasons You Might be a Closet Grinch
- As a child, you came from a divorced family and the holidays brought a lot of disruption in your routine with lots of bouncing around between families in order to make everyone else happy having “a piece of you”
- You currently share custody of your kids and the holiday spent without them is heart wrenching
- As a child, you dreaded when mom and dad got drunk and started beating on each other, or you and your siblings
- You currently work a job that requires shiftwork and you will spend at least one of the holidays changing bedpans or responding to a three-car pile-up
- As a child, while you were eternally grateful for the turkey from the food bank, you dreaded the thought of going to school with your new socks and hearing about all the cool toys everyone else got
- You currently deal with a monster-in-law from hell, and would rather stick needles in your eyes than sit across from them at the dinner table… or for some reason they feel that way about you and you don’t get invited to the holiday celebration
First, remember that you are no longer a child and you get to create your reality as an adult. No, you cannot control whether you have to work, or have custody, or have a dysfunctional family. However, you can choose how to orchestrate your season’s activities, if and how to react to the other players, to not take things so personally and be the bigger person, and to set healthy boundaries and expect them to be respected.
If you don’t have invitations pouring in, or you can’t stand the thought of being without your child, volunteer to serve holiday dinner at a homeless shelter. Or, work with any number of volunteer groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children during the holidays. There are many, many opportunities to provide community service. You won’t be depressed when helping others.
In the end, if it gets to the point where the mere mention of Christmas makes you twitch and you find yourself turning green and chanting: “I must stop this whole thing! Why for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I must stop Christmas from coming, but how!” consider booking yourself a week or two away to avoid the whole thing. If you can’t afford a vacation this year, use your holiday time to budget and make plans to take-off next year.
In all seriousness, this is a very difficult time of year for many of us, including me—at some point in my life I fit at least one, if not all six, of the descriptions above. Be compassionate with your friends and family who are not spreading holiday cheer, and adjust your expectations for that picture perfect holiday season. In the end we are all human, and “we’re all just waling each other home”.
Don’t forget to sign-up for my newsletter in the form on the right, and let me know what you think in the comments below… are you a closet Grinch or is the holiday season really your most wonderful time of the year?