Conjuring up seasonal cheer during the holiday season when you realize no one has included you into their plans is a tall order.
The only reason it may still be worth attempting is because the holiday season is inescapable and will suck you in. Wherever you go, it pounces up on you, surrounding everything into a reassuring air of benevolence and jollity. You can’t help reminiscing about past times when the holiday season still meant togetherness.
While happy memories can be a fount of strength, they can also paralyze you when your current circumstances offer no way of replicating them.
So should you still pull out all the stops and make the holiday memorable by showing others how much they matter to you anyway?
This is what I keep wondering about, willing myself to summon everything that I need and wish for by giving it to other people. I do it because it palliates the pain of lack and doesn’t give self-pity a chance; it’s invariably sunnier outdoors than in my head.
Value the love you give even if those who receive it don’t; why hoard something if its worth accrues the more you share it? There is never enough gentleness, we can all chip in at any time without needing a calendar reminder to handle one another with a little extra care.
How to put this into practice is a puzzle, the kind that has so many tiny pieces you have no idea how they will ever fit together.
Start with the outline and then fill it in a little more every day with small actions that all add up so that by the time January 1 comes along, so does clarity. Whatever the impact of your efforts on others, trust you will learn something new about yourself anyway.
This is your minimum viable outcome, your guaranteed reward, and it’s more than sufficient. The process of focusing outward long enough so the season doesn’t annihilate you is survival in action; it is all you really have to do.
How you go about it is something only you can know; for example, using art to transcend pain is a way among many others of putting more love out in the world. Look for places where everything you care about intersects with your skills and take it from there.
Even when you’re hurting, there has to be a way you can sprinkle a little joy around you so do that; be present instead of wishing the season away. See the understated beauty in the familiar, cherish simple rituals that bring you comfort, like a cup of tea.
Watch your breath in the cold and let it remind you that you are alive; make life count.
Being cold can inform how you share human warmth; being sad can inform how you share joy; being lonely can inform how you convey a sense of belonging.
How would you go about solving or preventing every single emotion that informs your current perception of the holiday season? Go through the list and find a way to put your solution into practice even if words on a page is the best you can come up with; writing belongs to everyone.
Few things are as immediately actionable as the act of committing words to paper or screen and sharing them with one or more people. All it costs is time, all it takes is heart.
Writing is alchemy, it makes the unseen visible, it makes the love within manifest so it can roam freely, bestowing warmth, joy, and light.
Stop thinking of yourself as the problem; become part of the solution instead, be that only one word at a time.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.