The holidays are coming. For some of us it is time to duck and cover.
I guess that is not the usual response to this upcoming season of joy and family. But I just want to send a shout out to those who do feel like taking cover as we approach this supposedly joyful yet sometimes stressful time of year.
It’s okay to want to hide.
It’s okay if the thought of holiday gatherings, cooking, baking and conversation make you want to cower under your blankets.
Advertisements on television bombard us with images of happy loving families sharing beautifully prepared meals in sparkling dining rooms made cozy by the gentle flames of a warm fireplace.
We see people watching football. Or opening presents. And lots of laughing.
Even in depictions where some people are presented as feeling out of place or isolated, they are shown with humor and understanding.
The boy sitting on the end of the couch interacting exclusively with his handheld video game seems quirky but not sad.
Teenagers rolling their eyes at their parents feels anecdotal.
Parents exchanging exasperated looks at eye rolling is sentimental.
Grandma, possibly aging, but still willing to engage in enthusiastic sports watching is heart-warming.
Even arguments are presented as examples of family idiosyncrasies instead of relationship ending disagreements.
But sometimes the boy sitting alone cannot feel a connection with what is going on around him.
Teenagers and parents go beyond eye rolling.
And grandma is cranky and possibly not feeling so well.
In reality holidays can be tricky, scary and force people to come face to face with the truth that they are not living up to the depiction and expectation of the day.
Sometimes the expectation of happy family gatherings makes you feel worse.
And not feeling joyful can make you feel guilty, and feeling guilty about not being happy is a very tough swallow.
Media teaches us that if we feel bad at this time of year where everyone else is so happy that it is our own fault. That there is a lack in us, and that it must stay hidden.
The need to hide feelings of isolation and sadness leads people to the sensation of being less than. Less than perfect. Less than acceptable. Less than…
So this is just a brief straight forward message.
There is nothing wrong with you if you feel sad.
You do not have to be anything you are not.
Real life is not what happens in commercials.
Holidays can be hard, but you will be okay.
You are not alone.