As I write this blog, we are six days before Christmas. This holiday season (starting with Thanksgiving) and anticipating the season has been difficult, as this is the first season without my mother, who passed away on January 6 of this year. As the fall approached and we drew closer to the holidays, I began to dread figuring out what to do. In particular, I wasn’t sure what to do about New Year Eve and New Years’ Day, since it was on New Years’ Eve that my mother took ill, and it was on New Years’ Day that I was trying to travel home to be with the family (the drama of trying to get a last minute flight on a holiday was tough).
As the season approached, I decided that I would not put pressure on myself to make solid plans, but would just try to let things unfold. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I decided to go home for that holiday, and my daddy, grandmother (my mother’s mother) and I would spend the day at my cousin’s house. The memories of the previous Thanksgiving were sometimes hard to bear, as my mother was the Thanksgiving hostess last year. She insisted on having a big family dinner, since earlier that year, we had lost her sister and her cousin, and there were 2 sets of children who didn’t have their mother for the holiday.
Plans for the day began to unfold almost naturally. We spent the afternoon having dinner with family and friends, and spent the evening watching football. It was a sigh of relief at the end of that day to know that we’d made it through one holiday.
As Christmas now approaches, the plans I desired to have (my daddy coming to visit me) did not materialize, so I am headed back home for Christmas. The only thing I knew about Christmas was that I wasn’t up for hosting a big dinner at my parents’ house. Thankfully, my daddy and I have received a few invitations to dinner on Christmas Day, so we will have (hopefully) a leisurely day with people who are aware of our loss and want to support us.
The holiday season is not over, but there are a few things I’ve learned so far:
Try not to be so rigid in your plans (or lack of plans). Be open to how things may unfold and just take each day as it comes. Let things flow naturally.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
Our emotions are all over the place during this season. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to be in a celebratory mood like most people are (or seem to be). If you don’t feel like decorating the house, skip it. If you’re not up for a holiday party, skip it. It’s ok.
Accept help from others
We don’t have to prove to anyone that we are strong enough to handle this first holiday season. If someone offers to help you with something, and you know you could really use it, accept the help with gratitude. Allow others to minister to you to help you through your grief or difficulty.
Take some extra time for yourself
Try to do something special for yourself for a pick me up…get your nails done, schedule a massage, read an inspirational book, or take a walk. Do something to care for yourself, to remind yourself that you are valuable and worthy.
Ask God for help and guidance
Pray, pray, pray! It’s ok to cry out to God because He knows and understands exactly what you’re going through. And, be intentional about reading the Word of God. In particular, the book of Psalms provides us many words of comfort as we struggle, just as many of the Psalm writers struggled.
Take the season one day at a time
Some days may be good, and others may be difficult. However each day unfolds, just be in those moments. If the day isn’t good, hold out hope that the next day is a new one with new possibilities. When the good days come, enjoy them and be thankful for them.
I pray this helps someone reading this who is walking through a similar season as I am. I will write a follow up to share with you how Christmas and New Years’ Day turned out. J Be blessed.