I’m writing this week more for myself than for anyone else. But every now and then you need a reminder of this reality, but I think it’s especially hard to remember going into the holidays at the end of the year.
It’s okay to not be okay.
I think about those people who have lost loved ones this year. I lost my grandfather this summer, and the first year anniversary of losing my daughter is this month. So I’m pretty sensitively aware of the sadness that quietly accompanies this time of year. There is a lot of talk of family, memories, traditions, all good things. All things I cherish. But it also makes it very obvious what is missing or what we are hoping for that isn’t here.
But I don’t think those are the only “sufferers” in this season.
There are the ones that have lost their jobs, or are struggling to support their families. The ones who are estranged from their families for a multitude of reasons. The ones who aren’t in the place of life they thought the would be at the beginning of the year. Plans fell through. Disappointments happened. And they look up and realize that another year is almost over, celebration is all around them, and there are times in the next couple of months that they just don’t feel like celebrating.
And then there are the people who look around the internet and see the perfect place settings, the pretty packages, the decorations and plans and organization, and they just struggle to “keep up.” This time of year, while it is merry and bright, while they have all of their family and friends and a great job, still deal with the comparison and depression beasts in their life. And they feel guilty because their lives could be much worse, and yet they still struggle.
I’m not trying to come down hard on the holidays. And maybe it’s just my present perspective, but I know I’m not alone. And I know that this time of year is almost magical at points. I’m looking forward to hugging my mom and dad at Thanksgiving, to opening presents with my in laws at Christmas, to laughing and playing with friends and family at the Christmas parties, to humming Christmas music in the shower, smiling at the Christmas lights, drinking from red Starbucks cups, and kissing my husband under the mistletoe and at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
But I want to recognize and give permission to the dark moments in the next two months. It’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to miss people and to talk about missing people. You don’t need to be perfectly happy and coiffed and decorated this holiday season. Jesus was born into this world to save the suffering, to reach out to the mourning, to heal the heartbroken. And acknowledging that brokenness with open honesty I think is a great part in celebrating.
So, I give you permission. Smile, laugh, cry, or scream. Whatever you need to do this year, it’s completely and utterly okay.