Garlic & Wine 3: Holidays & Struggle

bwGingerBreadHouseDecoratedA few Garlic & Wine thoughts on dealing with struggle come to my thoughts tonight, as Thanksgiving weekend wraps up and we move on to the madness of December.

When I was a kid, and even a younger adult, I didn’t really understand that the holidays are not all that those Christmas songs depict. Back then, maybe times were simpler all-around as far as the consumerism goes. But really I didn’t struggle during the holidays. With a few years and experiences under my belt, I now understand it is real.

Admittedly, I love the holidays to this day. I’m Scandinavian, and I adore the learning and traditions and icons of my heritage. I have struggled with Winter itself due to the short days for my entire adult life. The Scandinavian holiday imagery and traditions taught me that seeking light during dark Winter days runs in my blood. Candles on trees, the crown of candles, multi-day feasts and playful but rather terrifying house gnomes make the darkness pass swiftly.

Speaking to the struggle of the holidays within the Winter, I believe we all know people struggle with losses. First times without loved-ones, financial difficulties, material and time pressures to get everything perfectly decorated whilst somehow flitting about town gathering gifts and showing up at one too many parties makes for losing joy.

My thoughts for myself this year:

  1. Don’t overbook myself. Make SOME time for SOME things. I can’t be everywhere at once and still be at my best.
  2. Be polite and kind. Yesterday I got very offended in a crowded parking lot. People were behaving like toddlers going for the shiny thing. When I finally was able to get out of the lot, I realized I didn’t help by losing my cool. Even if it is just me who has a better experience by being patience, well, that is something.
  3. Gifts are for giving, not receiving. Gifts come in many forms. A phone call is one person’s gift. A letter of appreciation or admiration is another person’s gift. We don’t really all want or need more stuff. And on the flip side, we all have something to give that isn’t STUFF.
  4. My favorite holiday memories over the years are populated with images of the kitchen filled with projects and people, or with napping after a big family brunch that always follows the gift opening.

I learned to cook as a kid. My parents always hosted the big Christmas Eve party on our block. The next morning, it became my job to take the mish mash of leftovers and create brunch for the family. Sometimes it was Huevos Rancheros or Breakfast Burritos, and sometimes some kind of Crab Fondue Omelette (that may have been later in college). We always spent Christmas Day requiring nothing of ourselves. It was a good day. Reflective. So that tradition continues in my home now.

I wish for everyone to take a few minutes and think of how to take your holiday season back from the struggles. If you’re hurting or lonely, take time to heal and feel what you’ve got to feel. This season is hard for a lot of people, and all the shiny stuff makes it feel like everyone else is perfect and cannot possibly know your struggle. But we’re not alone in our struggles.

I hope that some nice, simple holiday cheer and kindness will get us through any struggles we might have.

A jul och gott nytt år to you all!

Christmas E Book
I’ve written some e-booklets with Scandinavian Christmas projects and recipes, for those interested. Just $3 to download, and some easy ways to enjoy a Winter afternoon.

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