Decorating For Christmas; The 8ft Pine Scented Journey Through Mental Health
Alright, settle in with a glass of nog. It’s not just about the Christmas tree.
Fair warning for those of you who may want to avoid tough subjects right now, this might be triggering. The text will be here when you’re ready to read it.
I tried really hard when I started to write this to make it about the Christmas tree; I wanted to stay dedicated to one example and keep it focused. Oddly enough, it never felt quite right not to address the rest of the emotions that led me to decorate the way I do.
Do me a favour if you’d be so kind. I want you to read this when you can take the time to consider what I’m trying to say. I feel it’s important that if we’re going to connect at all that we really try to go there.
The holidays can be very difficult. Please don’t mistake my tinsel soaked social media posts as an ignorance to the tough emotions that can be felt during this time of year. I too have lived through sadness that starts to trigger as December nears.
This year is actually my first as a separated parent. ( Cue the hugs to every single adult I know that shares their children with co-parents outside of their home)
I had no idea what you went through until now. Funny thing about that, you don’t know until you know; and when you know you have a responsibility to acknowledge that you really didn’t know and give love and empathy in the place of past judgements and ignorance.
When I talk to people who hate the holidays, 9/10 times it’s because there is deep, often buried or unacknowledged sadness or disappointment that stems from childhood. Life is merely a stack of memories and experiences, controlled by the mindset that you employ as you process those memories and experiences. ( read that again, I’ll wait).
Some take their tough childhood memories, address them, choose to try and grow from them and make a path for other children and adults to do the same. Others, use them as an explanation not to try; a reason for why it would be impossible to celebrate their life in light of all they’ve gone through and then pass that along.
You do have a choice.
It may take years of therapy and self reflection, but you can create joy for yourself and for others; even when your brain says otherwise.
Please don’t mistake that sentence as ignorant. I know some of you have gone through unspeakable tragedy that I could never fathom. Memories of abuse that I don’t have experience with. Reflections of disappointment at the hands of a loved one that I’ve not had to overcome. Preparations for a Christmas morning that won’t be shared with someone you loved.
That’s even more reason for you to try. Show someone who’s going through those things that they’re going to be ok. Shine a light, give comfort where you wish to be comforted.
Nobody can gift you with a good life, that only happens when you want one bad enough to do the mental work it will undoubtedly require. Your mindset belongs to you and you alone. If you struggle with anxiety and depression ( hands up), the most worthwhile place to decorate for the holidays is inside your own brain.
So if nary a wreath is hung in the four walls you’re lucky enough to inhabit, try and view one thing differently this season. I assure you, your effort towards bettering your own mindset will be the best gift you give the ones you love this holiday season. One day, you may find you’ve even included yourself in that “ ones you love” list, it’s important that you recognize you should be there.
With the recognition of everything I’ve said above, let me publicly thank my own family for putting forth such incredible effort in spite of what as an adult, I now recognize would have been tough to manage. Never second guess whether the mistakes here and there ruined the work you put in to happy holiday memories during my formative years. They didn’t. It’s OK. I’m OK.
The 8 year old girl that lives inside me wants you to know that you succeeded in giving me the favourable average I needed to strive towards the joy of the good ones rather than succumbing to sorrow of the bad.
* If this inspires you to recognize the effort someone in your life put in, please share this blog with them. I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable enough through writing this to hopefully inspire small acts of growth in families much like my own.
So WHY do I have a whale on my tree or a two week set up when it comes to the Christmas season? I do it because it makes me happy. I used to decorate with an idea of how it would be perceived, but now I decorate for the child that I’m lucky enough to carry around with me. I have to assume that If I decorate from my heart, it’ll bring joy to myself and the ones I love. This is authentic to me and whether you decorate or not, if you go through the holidays with a home that is authentic to you it may just give you a snowballs chance in hell of making it through.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. This is not a regular store. Let me prove it.