It’s arrived. The time when I shift the focus of my attention from my big goals of the year to my most treasured season. In the weeks ahead I get to fulfill my intention to be a gracious hostess for my family and friends.
My tacky but treasured turkey napkin holders will accompany my china as I light taper candles on my linen covered Thanksgiving table set for my brothers and sisters and their families. Ten days later I host my big party of the year in memory of my late brother, Tim, and friends will donate to a non-profit that supports people living with the disease that took Tim’s life at 35. Two weeks later, my children arrive home from either coast to celebrate our one holiday of the year together.
Whew! This might all sound exhausting. But I delight in decorating, in parties and party dresses, in cooking and causes, and, most of all, in bringing joy to those I love. I remind myself I don’t “have to” do this, but rather, that I “get to” do this.
Going through a divorce is anything but a party. It isn’t something you “get” to do—it’s something you “have” to do. It is full of deadlines, “To Do” lists, and deep emotions. Far from a tradition, it’s a scary new experience, and a wholly exhausting one at that.
When faced with a season that fills us with more dread than delight, how do we manage? Here are some possibilities.
Do less. Although your friends cheer with enthusiasm when you walk through the door carrying your famous three layer butterscotch pecan cake you baked from scratch, perhaps this year it’s a couple of pies you picked up at Costco. You’ll still be appreciated.
Say no. When your buddy insists you can’t stay home on a Saturday night, consider whether a date with NetFlix and early to bed might be better for you right now than another round of craft beer connoisseurship with the risk of a Sunday morning hangover.
Ask again. Feeling lonely? “Busy” can be a buzzword as the holiday season approaches. But if you really need some time with a friend, be brave and ask again to talk or take a walk. If some solo time is what you’re craving, ask those who care about you to give you the solitude you need.
Allow joy. Little bits of joy can be found everywhere, any time. Appreciating a moment of office humor, savoring that first morning sip of coffee, a hug from a pal. If you find yourself short on joy, create some yourself by bringing tiny tidbits of kindness to others.
Stay here. I have robbed myself of hundreds of hours of holiday happiness because my head was somewhere other than in the now. Worry about unplanned menus, fear that people wouldn’t come to my party, and hanging on to what happened last year have all been thieves of my delight. It’s a gift to be in the present instead.
This year, I hope to follow my own advice and to be gracious in both what I “get to” do and what I “have to” do. Here’s wishing you the same.