The Deep Dark Christmas Secret That We All Share

Hey, you know what? I know a secret you’ve been hiding. That’s right, just like Santa, who knows if you’ve been bad or good, I know about that secret you don’t want anybody to know about. And you want to know why I know that secret?

Because we all have the same secret.

How can that be, you ask? How is it possible for all of us to have the exact same secret? It’s simple. Because we are all human. Because we all make mistakes. Because we all mess up, make bad decisions, and find it difficult to mop it all up afterward. Even if it takes years, a lot of us never figure it out. And even when we do, there’s always a new mess to deal with.

In fact, it’s kind of funny sometimes how we know this, and yet we forget how to forgive each other for it. We get upset at someone because of what we feel is their bad or inappropriate behavior, forgetting that last year, or many years ago, we were guilty of something very similar. It’s interesting how our memories are so short.

We have all sorts of holidays, but there’s one we desperately need that we don’t have. The holiday of forgiveness. The holiday of letting go, mending fences, saying you’re sorry. I’m not sure when that holiday should be scheduled, but this time of year seems like a good a place as any.

What could compliment a holiday filled with love – supposed to be filled with love, anyway – better than forgiveness? It’s just an extension of the giving part. While we’re all in the giving spirit, why not forgive as well?

One of the reasons we’re all so secretly miserable at this time of year is because we have expectations, yours truly included. With all the crazy traditions going on, it’s incredibly difficult *not* to have expectations. We watch Christmas specials, Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music, and it all ties in to the Christmases we remember as children, when everything seemed perfect in every way. Christmases where the adults were hiding the same very secret that we still hide today. But we never realized it.

So we suffer. We watch these things, we listen to them, we not only allow that feeling of nostalgia to creep in, we welcome it with open arms. And then when things don’t turn out the way we expect, we’re deeply hurt, embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed.

Why do we do this to ourselves year after year? Why not embrace the reality of it all? Is the reality really so bad? We face that reality every other day of the year without facing it with such dread. It’s those memories and expectations that magnify the gap between and makes us so agonized during the holidays.

In the end, the people in our lives that affect us so much aren’t really evil. They are simply weak. We all take turns with that. Some of us are a little better at hiding it than others, is all. We should keep this in mind whenever others make things difficult for us, and try to keep things in perspective. Still, it’s difficult. But not quite as difficult as it needs to be.

After all, the holidays are really just another day. The only reason they have significance is because we decide they do. The only reason anything has significance is because we decide it does. Knowing this, we can control everything we think … about everything. We can decide that something is terrible and let it affect us deeply, or we can decide that it doesn’t matter whatsoever and simply move on, and focus on better things.

Sounds simple, but it really works.

The holidays always make things seem more important than they are. They are the same things that are always there, and they are things that will eventually change, because everything is always changing. There will always be things that are working, and things that are not working, and things that will never ever work, in our lives. This is a given. Comparing them to the idealistic memories of Christmases gone by is not doing ourselves a great service.

If you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of despair this holiday season, stop it. That’s right, you can just simply stop yourself. Change your train of thought, and focus on the now. The Right Now. What’s working, what makes you happy, what sustains you. You may not have everything, or even a lot, but you do have something, and someone that makes it good to be where you are right now.

So focus on that. Be happy knowing that you are here. Look around your room and see the things that you enjoy, and do them. Look in your fridge and see the things you like to eat, and enjoy them. Look outside your window and see the beauty there, and let it make you happy.

Look around your life and see the people who look to you for the things that only you can provide them, and allow yourself to feel appreciated. These things are there every other day of the year, and they are there on Christmas Day, too.

Originally published December 23, 2016.

And thanks, Bev, for the reminder!

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