By Olivia Crescenzi, Regular ContributorDecember 13, 2015
image via achildgrows.com
Every year around this time, as the school semester winds down and work periods come to a close, there’s an almost tangible sense of comfort that advances upon us; the holiday season. Everywhere you look, windowpanes are filled with holiday cheer, lights are beginning to decorate neighborhood houses, and, if you’re lucky, you can actually feel the magic coming to life. And if that isn’t enough, the best cafe drinks are now being served (peppermint and eggnog lattes always scream a big YES to me), big, comfy scarves are out, and candles are lit in every spare corner of the room.
Yet, for some, the holidays may not be such a joyous experience. Perhaps they remind you of lost loved ones, as a missing presence always seems to be amplified around this time as well. That moment when you look around and realize that there is one, a few, or too many people who never made it to celebrate this year. And this feeling, single-handedly, has the power to completely encroach upon all of the holiday warmth that surrounds us if we let it. Perhaps the constant family gatherings are a source of anxiety for you. Too many questions you’re not sure how to answer, too many times that you’ve unfairly felt like you don’t fully fit in with your own family. Perhaps you can’t get your mind off of the work constantly piling up on your desk, waiting for your return to the office, or the horrible break-up that feels like it was perfectly timed just to ruin the holidays.
Well, in that case, I’m here to tell you that it’s all okay. You have all the right to miss loved ones, feel anxious, and even to feel so caught up in other matters that you can’t bring yourself to be fully present with your family or whoever you’re choosing to celebrate with, if at all.
What I can tell you, however, is that your release from all of that will come as a result of you choosing the light. Choosing YOU.
In my case, the holidays have always felt like ‘coming home.’ It’s hard to describe, but every year as my exams finish up I get this feeling, almost as if I’ve just walked into my front door and crawled into bed after a long day, and as my eyes start to close, I exclaim “Ah, yes. I’m home.” There’s always a specific moment while my family is gathered to celebrate together that I look around at everyone surrounding me and can’t help but smile; they are my home. Although I feel this way about my family all-year round, it’s always particularly potent around the holidays; I can’t imagine a better feeling. Can you?
We all have reasons to be nervous around the holidays. Some more than others but all equally warranted. And while I can’t promise that surrendering to the cheer of the season will magically make all of your worries disappear, I can promise that there is always a choice to be made by YOU. And while it may feel most comfortable to sink into the shadows of doubt and hold hands with your darkest monsters, you always have the choice to climb out, even if it’s just for the holidays. You can chose to climb out and truly take the time to look deep into the eyes of those you’re celebrating with, no matter how near or far, and be grateful. In the words of Azita Ardakani, “Invite your monsters to a tea party.” Bring those monsters out of the dark with you if that’s what it’ll take for you to be fully present again. Drink all the hot cocoa. Wrap yourself in all the comfy scarves. But most importantly, surrender yourself to the light. It’s calling your name.
How do you remain present during the holiday season? How do you rid of the season's monsters and embrace the light? Tell us below!
Olivia is a twenty-year-old Microbiology & Immunology student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. On the (more often than not) moments that she's caught procrastinating her studying, she is just your regular teenager (yes, still) that values friends, family and dramatic reality TV more than anyone. She is a collaborator, an empathizer, and pretty middle ground between an idealist and a realist. Most importantly and above all, however, she's obsessed with our culture as young girls and women, and she wants nothing more than to delve deep into this important discussion with you.
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