Your Inner child at Christmas…Bah humbug
I didn’t realize, until I had little ones of my own, how Christmas can be a challenging time for so many.
In the past many years as a psychosomatic therapist, and recovering Christmas elf myself,
it became obvious to me that Christmas depression is real and many people deal with it.
According to Circle Health Group in the U.K. over half (55%) of North Americans experience Christmas blues, with many saying their loneliness is worse than last year (2021). Gen Zers (75%) and single adults (65%) feel lonelier than their counterparts.
Maybe your own childhood memories or generational trauma
sneak up on at the holidays, to rob you of Christmas peace and joy.
My own childhood memories of anticipation to emptiness, played a bigger role
in my holiday traditions than I realized. I didn’t understand why it felt so heavy in our
house after the gifts were all opened.
My parents were extremely hard workers and honest people.
It seemed everyone in our neighborhood was like us.
All the houses were built in the sixties, and essentially were all similar, like the families in them.
We didn’t have close family, they all lived in the next province over, in Alberta.
I grew up in the Canadian prairies, in Saskatchewan.
I grew up and moved to Alberta where all my extended family lived and where I spent
many summer and Christmas holidays.
My first child was born December 15, 1989.
I looked forward to the following Christmas so I could host everyone and have the traditional
family meal and all the fun of hosting for the first time, in my own home.
I was often referred to as the Christmas elf.
My decorating theme was alway extra glitter & sparkle.
I had always loved how it felt gathering with family, especially Christmas.
l was dreaming of a Norman Rockwell Christmas
for this special first year as a mom.
What I got was Humbug!
It made it’s mark on me, and changed my Christmas’s forever.
Anticipation built high expectations til the day finally arrived.
Everyone started arriving and the festivities started.
Friends and family joined us, making for a full house of twenty seven of my favorite people.
What could go wrong?
In my profession over the past decade I facilitated trainings.
This were strategically organized as all inclusive stay ins so attendees were in a safe and secure environment.
It’s deep work that challenges even the most seasoned practitioners.
When students would arrive, my husband Larry, who is also a practitioner,
would playfully call to me “The children are here!”. They were each arriving to unpack their emotional
baggage so they could move forward in their life.
Many came with their favorite pillow or blanket.
Their special crystals or other items to make their temporary home feel like theirs.
It was an intensive ten day experience that would unravel the mystery and the challenges in their life,
and ultimately to address generational trauma and release it.
I see now, how training for this work has been an integral part of my life path.
That first Christmas, as I look back on it, I saw how all the childhood memories of past christmases were still relevant for each of those who arrived with their emotional baggage.
“The kids were home for Christmas”.
Who ever thought it would be fun to put strangers together and add alcohol on what I thought was one of the
happiest days of the years.. Wrong, not fun.
In those days we always had alcohol in the house. I was social in my drinking, it was always in our house growing up. Never saw any problems with it. I can honestly say I’ve never seen my parents even tipsy.
If they were it wasn’t evident to me.
I introduced friends and family as they came in, I thought how wonderful.
People mingled in rooms from front to back of the house.
The meal seemed to go off fabulously, too much food as is also a custom.
Lots of talking, music in the background. As the eating wound down and people started moving
I busied myself clearing away dishes with gals in the kitchen.
My sister mentioned quietly to me “that guy can really pack the food away. He’s come back for his fourth helping” I hadn’t noticed.
He was the live in love of my closest friend. I noticed that others were watching him and talking amongst themselves.
I’d known him for two years.. He was a quiet kind of a guy and I liked him.
I was loading the dishwasher when my girlfriend came in to tell me they were going for a walk.
Her fella was feeling the side effects of eating & drinking and they were going to walk it off.
I turned my attention to the twenty five other bodies. Seemed to me everyone was having fun.
Drinks were flowing, card games were happening.. Laughter and loud talking, teasing over who could win.
I noticed my dad wasn’t in the room, he loved cards. I found him alone on the front room with the tree all lit up and twinkling.
I thought he looked like a little boy enjoying the wonder of what was under the tree.
He had one of my favorite crystal whisky glasses in his hand, pretty well full to the brim.
“Hey dad, what you doing?” I asked. His response left me speechless, I’d never heard him talk that way.
“I understand why people go crazy, if it wasn’t for these four damn walls to look at, I could go crazy too!”
I looked into his eyes, I wondered if he was teasing. I didn’t know where it was coming from.
I hadn’t see him as a wounded child, even though I had heard many of the stories of his childhood.
He was the second oldest of twelve kids, ten boys and two girls. They all worked hard.
My grandmother made bread every day using a wood burning stove.
She was so lovely. A short woman with soft skin I remember.
She died when I was fifteen, I still miss her.
One story I was told of how she had broken her back twice in her life.
Once when she was a kid tobogganing in the winter. The other when she was pregnant.
Looking at my dad in that moment, I saw something I hadn’t seen before.
His smiling eyes had let down their guard.
I wished I had just sat with him, if he wanted to talk or not. I didn’t know how to respond.
He was such a tough guy and so proud of it.
He came from a time when “real men were ten foot tall and bulletproof” and you sure don’t talk about your feelings.
I knew he was a softy under all that armour, and I didn’t dare say it.
I made my excuses and quickly exited to the dining room where everyone else were playing cards.
My bestie and her guy had returned. He was looking pale. She pulled me aside to say they needed to
make their way home.
She explained that he was the youngest of ten boys. Dinner time etiquette was “whoever got there first”.
Being the youngest and smallest often left him without.
At forty, he still carried the emotional scars of family meals.
Often she would remove the food from the table or he would continue eating till it was all gone.
Even if it made him sick.
This is no different than the side effects of alcohol or drugs.
Over consuming to point of vomiting or maybe even death.
Emotional wounds often don’t present in the physical to the untrained eye.
That Christmas passed and was the last family christmas that I felt the wonder and joy of the holiday.
I shared one more Christmas in that first home before leaving the dream of the picture perfect life
I had created in my mind’s eye.
I attempted for many years to put on my holiday mask and make a big celebration.
Being a single mom for several years gave me the opportunity and gift of sharing insights with my little girls.
I realized how that depression at any holiday could come because of the emptiness any of us can feel
due to our life experience at any age.
That moment shared with my father in front of the tree was a defining moment. It started the process of looking back over family holidays and explained extra drinks or harsh words that at times seemed to come out for no reason.
I filled my little girls minds and hearts with thoughts of feeling complete in themselves.
I shared with them that they could celebrate the joy of Christmas every day of the year. That really excited them.
The act of giving a gift was for them to enjoy the pleasure in the eyes and heart of those receiving.
I loved the most precious moment when my four year old picked the present from under the tree to give to Grandpa Benny. The whole time she was watching his face to see the response.
If I only ever gave them one thing, this was it.
To me, is what Christmas is about.
Well that was thirtyish years ago, and today I am still working on myself.
Generational trauma comes in many forms. This year my husband said something that I so deeply
appreciated hearing. “They didn’t see how much you cared about them experiencing it”.
He really nailed it for me. I didn’t know why it bothered me so much.
I stopped putting up a tree and decorations in 2010.
I caught myself singing Christmas songs yesterday.
It’s a choice. Not always easy, but doable.
Be kind to yourself. Do what you need to do for you. Even if it means you do it without the ones
you think you’re supposed to be with, even if it’s with strangers or by yourself.
Healing is a choice.
Have a Happy Holiday this year Beautiful Soul