Holiday Expectations & Anxiety
Most of the time we think of holidays as happy times of celebration with gatherings filled with love and merriment; usually times of togetherness and shared feelings, rituals or traditions. This is not the case for everyone though and sometimes holidays can be the hardest times for people. This might be because they are alone and don’t have family or friends nearby to share in the celebration and festivities or sometimes it is because past memories of holidays bring back unpleasant, sad, disappointing and sometimes even traumatic experiences. There can be a lot of pressure on people to make holidays look and happen a certain way and then there is always the dynamics of family relationships that can cause stress or anxiety for many people. For others it is the memories of happy holidays past and people who are longer in our lives that can be difficult. There are actually a multitude of reasons that can make holidays hard for people and being both aware and sensitive to this is important. Being aware of your own feelings around holidays is something you can actually do for yourself. If you know that holidays, in general, or specific holidays are difficult for you, you can plan around this. You can give yourself a little extra self-care to help you through them or you can plan activities to take your mind off of whatever causes you to experience unhappiness. You can also make an effort to change those past negative memories or attitudes and make new memories and feelings by experiencing the holidays in a totally new and different way. If anxiety during holiday situations is the problem, you can get help to get to discover what is causing it and actually feel more relaxed to finally enjoy the holidays. We can be sensitive to others who may be having difficulties at holidays by reaching out and letting them know they are being thought of with phone calls or other types of connection or we can share our holidays with them by inviting them to join in our celebrations.
It may be that you don’t like holidays in general, like a friend of mine, who calls them all, “just another day”, or maybe you like some holidays and others, not so much. For me, Easter was not a holiday I ever liked much until I was an adult and had my own child. My memories of Easter were for the most part not happy ones. I am talking about Easter from a strictly celebratory viewpoint and not it’s religious or symbolic meaning. One of my first memories of Easter was being dressed up and taken to get my photo taken with this huge and very scary creature that was suppose to be the Easter Bunny. I remember crying and trying to get away, before being forced into a photo. The expression on my face said it all, though I don’t think I can find the photo, I remember it vividly. Other memories of Easter for me include being dressed up in uncomfortable and itchy clothes and forced to attend church, which always included an argument between my parents. Easter baskets filled with candy I didn’t really like. I remember coloring eggs, which wasn’t fun at our house, because my mom didn’t want there to be any mess. Then the eggs themselves, which I did not want to eat. I remember putting them under my bed one year and they spoiled and smelled horrific. We would often go to my aunt & uncle's house for the holiday dinner and my dad, being an alcoholic, would drink too much and the arguing on the way home was inevitable. I did like the holiday dinner, not the fessing and anxiety though, and the short tempers of adults preparing the dinner. It always made me tense and uncomfortable. I could feel all the energy between the adults at the holiday dinners and it usually gave me a headache and upset my stomach. Being the oldest of the cousins, I was the caretaker for the younger ones, who were usually acting out and responding to all the tension and chaos, as well. Holidays and especially Easter, were not happy times of celebration for me as kid, but more a day I tried to get through as best I could and was happy when it was over and all the Easter candy and trappings were gone.
When I became an adult, I often avoided the family gatherings before I married. After I was married, I tried to either avoid them or create a second and separate holiday that was more pleasant. When I had a child of my own, I tried both to fit into the family gatherings and experience them in a different way, to create a better experience around holidays for my son. Of course, in doing this my past memories did play a big part in what I focused on and how I created memories for my son. Being an only child, family and being around extended family and grandparents was always important to my son, especially after his dad and I divorced and I was a single parent. I tried to participate in family gatherings and have a good time to make it a happy time for my son. This was not always easy for me, but seeing my son happy did help. I embraced the traditions and tried to make them both memorable and happy, paying attention not to what was expected, but what my son enjoyed and what made him smile. There were no itchy clothes or forced trips to church or Sunday school. Although, my son did make the choice to go to church on some occasions. Yes, we did discuss the meaning of the holiday and its traditions. He did get his picture taken with the Easter bunny, who he did not seem to be the least bit afraid of, but maybe a little amused by. I will say the Easter egg hunts of all types were something my son loved and we kept that tradition going until he was almost 18, per his request and a few times beyond that just for sentimental reasons. In addition to the family gatherings, we always did something special for the holiday, like a nice brunch or going to a park or somewhere with beautiful views or a special event. I am happy to say, I am sure my son has good memories about holidays, for the most part and Easter specifically! And, in the process of creating those memories for him and changing my own experiences of Easter, I created new happy memories and my feelings around Easter changed, too.
Easter has turned out to be one of favorite holidays because I love getting together with my family and having a usually relaxed celebration with good food, people I love and a few traditions, as well as, a lot of good feelings. Yes, my sister does sometimes work too hard and stress over the preparations, but she does it with caring and I love her for it. This year my family is not together, my son is in Idaho and working today, my sister is at a dog show, enjoying that I hope, and I am not sure what my brother and family in Washington are up to. I miss them all and look forward to the next time we can get together. I am alone today and remembering good times together. I am giving myself a little extra self-care, as I mentioned can be helpful. The point of what I am saying, is that even if we have bad memories or experiences that have spoiled holidays for us in the past, it is possible to change that and create new, better experiences that will become good memories to carry us forward. It is our choice to do so. Wishing you much joy and happiness in all things, and some great holidays to come!
4/17/2022 08:33:21 pm
Well written and versed like always. I’m very happy that the years forward have proven to bring a happier Easter! To be with family that are in range is a joy; and there is always the disappointment of missing the ones that are not. I have then scattered from Co. To Texas to So. Ca. Time is not slowing down, and I hope that we can all be together all the same time in the future. What the future holds we can only plan with wishes and not expectations. What will be will be. I have tried these last years to be less anxious and more peace of mind. It will work out with planning; and patience; if it’s meant to be!
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Blog By Kate Olson
Kate is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner & Trainer, Reiki Master, Energy Healer, Life Coach and more. To find out more about her or her work, click the links below:
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After 4 years of featuring at least 1 guest Author a month this blog changed in 2020. I loved featuring the posts of other great people who also believe in mind, body, spirit wellness. I will continue to feature articles submitted to me on this topic that align with my own mission. However, finding & reaching out to others is time consuming and I do it for my radio show, Soul Talks and other groups and projects and so for this blog i will be ramping up my own posts and perspective. posting mostly my own blogs. I will be happy & excited to post articles from those who submit them to me.