You deserve to have a happier holidays, a happier Christmas, a happier Hanukkah, a happier 2018
I grew up in a family that took pride in lavish Christmas preparations, but our attempts to make each year a happier Christmas than the last always failed. At our house the joy never lasted very long. Every year my father led us in a quest for our loveliest tree ever, which he reshaped to perfection with garden shears and wire. Then he’d start to stagger and slur his words.
At our house his drinking was as much a part of the festive season as turkey and twinkling lights. With his Christmas tree obsession, he distracted us all from the open secret of his alcoholism. Andy Williams’ holiday song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” used to fill me with jealous longing.
Why was Christmas so wonderful for everyone else, when for me it was the season of disappointment?
In even the happiest family, there’s bound to be a holiday season when real life comes nowhere close to soaring expectations that date back to earliest childhood. Add on the stress of the season, too. Maybe you’re missing someone, mourning someone or bracing yourself for bad blood at the holiday table. And the seasonal call to rejoice becomes the heaviest of obligations. The first Christmas after my father died, I forgot that the holiday wasn’t all about me. The very thought of a Christmas tree brought back so many painful memories that I wouldn’t have one in our house – never mind the disappointment this caused my son, Ben.
I’ve since found that even in the saddest of Decembers, there’s always something to celebrate: A homemade card from my son, a snowshoeing trip with my husband in the first snowfall of the year, a visit from a long-lost friend who happens to be in town. Pausing to honour these moments brings comfort – and a measure of joy. Here’s what I’ve learned from role models who know how to brighten the dark times.