The holiday season is here, friends! We see pictures of warm family dinners. We see parents sharing pictures of their elves on shelves. We see beautiful bows carefully placed on top of elaborate gifts. I've never been a big fan of the holidays (it's one of my major character flaws...that and my inability to do math). But, I do love when we all share in the magic of whatever holidays we celebrate.
It would be great if all we ever had to think about was all the goodness that is the holiday season. However, one difficult reality about the holidays is that it can sometimes highlight what we don't have. And, what's most difficult about the holiday season is that people often feel like they can't share their despair because everyone else is so happy. You might be stressing over the fact that you don't have the money to buy your kid the one big gift they asked for. This might be the first holiday you celebrate without someone you love. This holiday might churn up memories for people who didn't always have joyous times during this season.
First of all, I hear you. I am missing my grandparents terribly this holiday season, and I am certainly scraping pennies to get the people I care about the gifts I think they deserve. But secondly, I encourage you to think about what you do have - and don't do it in a comparative way. Sometimes we fall into the trap of saying, "But, some people don't even have what we have." I argue that's just as dangerous as comparing yourself to people who have more. When you base your worth on the worth of others, you have no control over how you perceive your reality - it is determined by outside forces. I don't have the money to get my kids the motorized Jeep I'd love to watch them drive around in the summer, but I do have the money to get them some little things they're going to love. And more importantly, I have the mental and physical resources to give them memories that will last far longer than the cheap plastic. I don't have my grandparents here anymore. But, my own parents are grandparents now, and I can build some beautiful memories with them and my children.
Inevitably, the people I follow on social media will share pictures of "better" gifts they bought and received. They'll share pictures with their grandparents. Those images and ideas only hurt me if I let them. The easy thing for me to say is to get off social media. However, I actually am not one to damn social media. I get to see pictures of my cousin and his family that I would otherwise miss because they live a bit away. If you want to swear off social media for the holidays, by all means, do so. If you're like me, and you need it to keep track of people you care about who don't live near you, I encourage you to mentally check in with yourself when you feel yourself sliding down that comparative slope. When you feel yourself being drained by images of things that evoke jealousy and sadness, make a conscious effort to feel happy for those people then close the app and look at what you have. Look at your two children playing with the 15 dollar toy you got them. Look at your own mother smiling as she watches them play. Your life is full of joy if you don't let the comparative jealousy eclipse it. That mother who got her kid the 300 dollar Jeep, the father who got his kids' presents from the Dollar Tree, and the grandma who stayed up all night wrapping 30 presents for her grandkids all have one thing in common: they want to be happy. Be happy for each other then be happy for yourself. We can all be happy simultaneously...this isn't a competition.
Happy holidays, friends!