The Holiday Shadow
As 2019 closed out I reflected not just on the year but on my recent feelings. The holiday season is full of weight. People expect simple delight, cookies, and joy. Instagram is supposed to reflect the happiness of family and friends as people come together. While this brings it with cheer and happy wishes, it also brings a decent amount of pressure to just be happy. But, for many, the holiday season cannot help but carry some heaviness. For many, under the decorations, twinkling lights, and gathering a shadow emerges.
This shadow can be poor finances, being unaccepted by your family, or many other things. For me, the shadow is one of loss. Every holiday season a distinct missing of my Grandpa occurs.
As Christmas movies are pulled out and my family enjoys meals together I feel a shadow that is his missing presence. Longing for him to be there.
The most difficult part of shadows is they are unobtrusive to many. Others may not see your shadow easily and sometimes even if seen, it is dismissed. Nobody want's to acknowledge shadows during the "happiest time of the year." Social media brags of joy, well-meaning family and friends may double down on holiday cheer, and even your favorite holiday activities beg you to just forget the shadow and enjoy yourself.
With so many things pushing at you to "just be happy," you can feel as if the best thing to do is to also try and ignore the shadow. However, over the years I have learned that pushing away that shadow often ends up bottling feelings that end up ruining things I do want to enjoy. Rather than accepting the holiday cheer as a reason to push away the shadows, I would say the best way to handle them is to simply acknowledge them. I simply acknowledge the shadow of loss. Sometimes noting to myself how nice it would be if Grandpa could be here or giving myself a moment to escape into a space where I can feel sad and let my feelings be. While these moments may seem or to pull down the spirit of things, acknowledging the shadow helps it remain underfoot and to allow me to move on to enjoying what I can during the holidays.
As we move into 2020 the holiday season fades behind us. But, as we push into a new decade and year I encourage all to acknowledge the shadows in their life. Whether they become more apparent during the holiday season, or simply live in your every day, give yourself room to accept them and acknowledge them.