For the last 15 years I have experienced and enjoyed the holidays fully. When I was young, I had the all too common experience of divorce in my family which resulted in less than stellar holidays, and often some form of drama. My story isn’t unusual, but how I decided to change it all is important
From the time I was about 11, which was shortly after my parents divorced, I never looked forward to the holidays. They were painful, often included awkward moments debating where we were to spend Christmas, who bought what for whom and how much they spent on each child and on and on. It was never enjoyable. I was more excited to see the holidays end versus start of the season. My recollection is that the celebratory part of the holidays were nonexistent.Therefore, my best defense or my coping strategy was getting sick. Invariably, every Thanksgiving or Christmas I was sick.
Being sick kept me in bed and gave me a “free pass” to skip out on the holiday drama. I found it worked well. Unfortunately, when I started my own family the behavior continued. One summer I went to visit my relatives and we began reminiscing. We got on the subject of the holidays and my cousin asked about my family holidays, “I hate the holidays. It just stirs up all the old crap and quite frankly, I dread them every single year.”
She looked at me with cheerless eyes and said, “Oh Nicki, now is the time to create your own history. You’re doing yourself and your family a huge disservice by allowing the past to dictate your future. Why not start your own family traditions and build new, happy memories?”
Why hadn’t I thought of that? How selfish I was to allow my bad experiences to flow over in to my family. I started thinking about the time I had wasted having a pity party for myself. “What’s done is done,” I thought. What was odd is that I had managed to master the skill of leaving behind my past in so many other areas, yet the holidays I couldn’t seem to cut loose. That was until my cousin put things in perspective for me. Sometimes you’re just ready to hear things.
The following Christmas I made the decision to enjoy the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I vowed not to get sick and to enjoy MY family. It was time for our family to write our own history and most important for my children to experience great holidays. Trust me, it wasn’t easy but it really wasn’t about me now was it? It’s about so much more no matter what your beliefs.
This Christmas will be the 15th Christmas since having that discussion with my cousin. Each year becomes more fun, more enjoyable and we have built some pretty incredible memories. At the end of the day it really was up to me to discontinue the cycle of negativity and create an opportunity for my children to construct their own memories and traditions. And we definitely have traditions, special, wonderful, fun, loving traditions.
No matter your history, your future is yours to write, however you choose. We can continue to live in the past allowing it to dictate our future, or we can grant ourselves the opportunity to generate new memories making the past something to cherish. To me, that is the best present of all.
I wish you warm holidays, wonderful traditions and most importantly a story full of hope, love and possibility.
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.