The Ultimate Holiday Gift

Holidays have come to mean gifting and receiving for many of us. The season becomes a whirlwind of activity. There’s tree trimming, candle lighting, cooking and shopping sprees. Some of us knock ourselves out with expectations. This bustle can lead to emotional exhaustion, a perfect medium for growing resentments. There is a solution. The ultimate in holiday gifts this year is forgiveness! I’ve decided to gift myself with it first.

I recently sat to listen to a talk given by Marianne Williamson based on her new book The Law of Divine Compensation. Suffice it to say I’m still sifting through the words I heard and the images I received through the prayer and meditation that we shared in during the talk.

Pushing tissue paper, ribbon and credit cards aside, I’ve taken some time for introspection. I believe that I can see within myself a bit more clearly. As I envisioned Higher Power holding me as I looked within, I came across some realizations. I have held resentments against people for actions I believed they took that ultimately harmed me. These are my perceptions alone and who is the one who is still smarting? I think it’s me. There’s an old saying that holding onto resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. My old angers can be defined as righteous that can be further defined as self-righteous. Yeah? So what? Blaming others for my misery gets tiring. I become depressed and glum. My higher self tells me to “Let it go, Theresa. Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Holding onto resentment doesn’t allow us to grow and be the persons our coded DNA intended. This certainly does not mean that we should keep ourselves in unhealthy situations but the spaces between our ears can be such dark and lonely places.

During Marianne’s meditation I went deep. I saw the faces of people I believed had harmed me. My connection was that I loved those faces at one time or other and still do in in some cases. I sent their images breaths of love. Did they receive it? I don’t know. I do know that the old anger, hurt and resentments within me are dissipating. I can move forward in new relationship to them but mostly to myself. It feels good to be weightless- even after eating those holiday butter cookies. I love being my higher self. It feels good. I don’t have to make the choice between being right or happy. Forgiveness gives me both. Forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s priceless.

Holiday Sides: Guilt and Blame

Along with the turkey platter why not fill a couple of side dishes with sweet potatoes and stuffing instead of years’ long simmering resentments?
 
Working in mental health has allowed me a bird’s (turkey or chicken- your choice) eye view of the horrors of the holidays. I rarely take off at this time of year because, unfortunately, many of my clients become suicidal and, occasionally, homicidal.

Invited to listen to multiple stories of fathers throwing turkeys across the room, mothers taking to their beds with migraines and uncles becoming too casual with the touch after a few too many, I’ve learned some things. You are not alone! You’re not the only one who has witnessed your parents go at each other with the electric carving knife. You don’t have to be paralyzed around the thought of Thanksgiving. You may allow yourself to enjoy the holiday- even if you spend your sophomore holiday with friends, leaving your little brother to deal with the madness at home-alone.

If these stories sound personal to you, they are in some ways, but they are universal- contrary to what Wal-Mart, Givenchy and Macy’s would like us all to think. Glittering gold decorations, that new down jacket and vest, or a few glasses of eggnog filled with white rum really may make you feel better about everything that you’ve experienced in the past. Instead, for some, it leads to an uncontrollable craving of buying more, drinking more or eating more-MORE!!! More eventually turns on us and we feel like LESS.

The people I’ve spoken to are usually in some phase of change. Old coping patterns no longer work. New ones seem hard to begin. A simple suggestion of taking a short interval jog/ walk to clear one’s head is often met with “I’m too busy” or “My knees hurt.” Eating a salad for lunch or a Clementine as opposed to an ongoing carbohydrate extravaganza may not seem very appealing. I’m still frequently surprised at the familiar sentence, “I don’t eat vegetables.”

You may wonder how these suggestions may help you endure the holiday season. They can be used as gateway methods of taking care of yourself in a healthy and positive way. There can be comfort in attending support groups, 12 step meetings, or individual psychotherapy. One of my favorite mottos is that “You don’t have to do anything alone”- even if you’ve been taught by example to do it that way. Getting caught up in the wreckage of the past or, as my friend Steve says- the wreckage of the future, gives us one certainty-we deny ourselves the beauty of today.

Instead of passing a side of bitterness, why not pass along one of love and compassion for yourself. If you decide that one more sparkling glass of white wine or another five butter cookies is what you want- go for it. They can be delicious, fun and happy making indeed. If your intuitive side nudges you and tells you that partaking of these will add to more misery why not, instead, grab for the true gold of love and life- it’s yours for the taking too!

Happy Thanksgiving all… now about that gratitude list…