Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall: change and anticipating the holidays

As the photo illustrates, Fall is in full color here. I think this is the loveliest Fall color season I can remember. I know my camera is getting a real work out trying to capture it all.

We think of the Fall as a season of change and transition, as we do the Spring. Really though change is taking place constantly. Today is different from both yesterday and tomorrow, just as things are different from month to month. But we more closely associate Fall, and Spring, with change because so much change takes place within a relatively short period of time.

Fall not only is the transition from summer to winter it also signals the beginning of the end-of-year holidays. For those in a life transition the anticipation of the holidays may be accompanied by anxiety or sadness but sometimes there is relief as well even if that seems strange.

The upcoming holidays, and their anticipation and preparation, need not become an “end of the world” experience. It is possible with insight, communication and planning to create and participate in holiday celebrations that can become a bridge to the future. The keys to building that bridge are in how the old traditions are handled, staying grounded in the present, and finding a few new traditions.

If you have traditions that are no longer possible to do choose carefully how they will be dismantled. Try to make letting go of some activity a group decision if you can, and find a way to remember it well in its former context. Maybe starting a family or group journal of holiday memories will help put aside the old if the former traditions are allowed to be discontinued but not forgotten.

It is okay to reminisce about past holiday memories; however, it is not useful to carry-on about the things this holiday or future holidays will not have. No holiday is dependant upon an event or anything else. If you need a reminder about this “the Whos of Whoville” in Dr. Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! might help; and I recommend this video version. Choose to be a model of healthy acceptance rather than of tragic remorse.

If all the changes—the letting go and dealing with the things that are not possible this year, maybe not in the future either—are becoming overwhelming or all-consuming then get outside help and don’t get stuck playing out a tragic role. Find some kind of counsel; either a pastor or professional or a support group of some kind. Any or a combination of these can help you anticipate, move through, and build a holiday experience to move you into your future; but you must be proactive and choose a healthy response to your feelings.

From time to time we’ll look at different holidays and ways to avoid the pitfalls as well as different kinds of traditions that might create springboards for future celebrations.

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