Reframing Christmas

I just had the best Christmas I’ve ever had.

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t with my family. I was with friends, and my fiance. I made the decision to stay off the icy roads this year and stay home. I felt really guilty at first. I felt like I was abandoning my family, but I just really, really didn’t want to do the whole Christmas thing this year. I wanted to ignore it completely. To be honest, I was getting a little bah humbug about the whole thing.

It might seem weird for someone who is all over the whole love, peace and joy thing to hate Christmas, but let me give you some background.

My parents were divorced when I was six, and from that time on, every Christmas, it was always a choice between Mom or Dad. When I was really little, they chose obviously. When I was older, I made the choice, and usually chose to spend it with my Dad, because then I got to see more family all at once. It was kind of the utilitarian choice. But no matter who I was with, I always felt like I was letting the other part of my family down.

We had some of the usual Christmas drama, as most families do. Some mild fighting, which is almost inevitable when that many people are together in an intensely emotional time of sleep deprivation, extra sugar, extra excitement with the added instability of the departure from the usual routine. But every year, I grow to hate Christmas more and more, even though I always wound up having fun in the end.   I would cry every year, usually on Christmas Eve ’cause I missed Mom, or Dad and it was usually just too much for me to handle.

So this year I wanted to stay away from all of that, to avoid all those feelings. But I still felt them. I still felt angry and sad and annoyed by Christmas even though I wasn’t going to go through all of that this year. I was so upset about it that I wondered if something traumatic had happened that I couldn’t remember on a Christmas day.

I asked my sister, since she has a much better memory (or hasn’t repressed as much from childhood as I did) and she did tell me a story that explained the depth of my feelings. One year and we can’t remember what year that was, Mom and Dad couldn’t decide who would have us on Christmas day, so we spend the morning with Mom and headed off to the airport to fly as unaccompanied minors in the afternoon to Dad’s house. The flight was empty and the flight attendants fussed over us, with a lot of pity for the poor kids of divorced parent’s flying them all over the place on Christmas day.

It all made a little more sense to me then, my feeling of being pulled in two directions at once at Christmas. I spent some time letting myself feel the unfairness of it all.  I cried, because at the time I didn’t really realize at the time how much it sucked. To survive, I just sucked it up and buried it deep down inside . I had to let myself feel that pain before I could let go of it. Feeling an emotion is the only way you can be free of it.

Once I actually acknowledge just how much Christmas sucked for me growing up, I felt lighter. Up until that point, nothing I tried really let me enjoy Christmas for more than a few moments. Now I can start reframing Christmas on my terms. As an adult, in a new city, with a new family and friends of my own.

And you know what? My whole family was supportive of me starting new traditions. They know I love them, and that I’ll get to see them next week, to celebrate without the past hanging over my head. This year, I was able to stay in the present. To be present and enjoy Christmas on my own terms, with love and joy in my heart instead of old hurts  and sadness. I’m actually already looking forward to next year.

I actually am happy.

A question was posted on a hooping forum I am member of. The question was: ” Are you happy?  No seriously?Are you  happy?”

My answer seemed like something I might as well  share here as well as on the board.

” I am happy. Not always of course, sometimes I get kind of down, sad or angry, but it generally passes quickly and I’m back to my baseline state of happy. I’m not all and rainbows and puppies, but there are moments- many moments lately when I’m not just happy, I’m joyful and I actually feel like I might just explode into confetti sparkles. I really try not to be nauseating about it, but I’m sure I’ve annoyed people who don’t want happiness around them.

It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this place though. A lot of self discovery, a lot of introspection and dealing with old emotions that I had just ignored at the time. Lots of (don’t laugh, it was pretty helpful) inner child work, lots of journaling, meditation, prayer, physical activity,  lots of work on identifying what I actually wanted out of life and then manifesting that. I read hundreds of self help books, I’ve gone on lots of retreats and workshops.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about happiness for me is that I am the one who is responsible for my own happiness. No one else is. I get to choose how I react to every single event, every moment of my life. I might as well choose to be happy and to make choices that make me happy.  Now, I know that if you are chemically depressed it’s not as easy as just this, but it still comes down to making choices and taking personal responsibility for your life.

You create your reality with your thoughts. If you think life sucks, it will. The more you love life, the more it will love you back. It is the law of attraction, the secret… whatever you call it, we live the life we think of.

Whatever you think of comes back to you… If you focus on the crap, what you lack, what sucks and what has made you unhappy in the past, you just wind up attracting more of it into your life. It sounds so trite, but there really is something to the whole positive thinking jazz.

You can train your brain, and choose your thoughts. It’s really tough at first, but you can use things like meditation and NLP (neurolinguistic programming) to change your thought patterns and put them under your control. Then, you can consciously create your reality. Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways of cultivating thing. Practicing gratitude automatically changes your thoughts and will actually change your life. After awhile it becomes a habit and things start to get crazy wonderful when you are grateful for everything that is.

Once you’d created happy, healthy thought habits, you have the power to create the life that makes you happy. You get to choose happiness in every moment.

Barney Stinson said it best. “One morning I woke up and I was sad, and then I decided to be awesome instead. True story!”

After years of learning how, I can finally do this and it’s more rewarding that I can even explain.
Life becomes awesome at a whole ‘nother level.