The holidays are a time for celebration and sadness

“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”

― Mary Lou Kownacki

If you were flying like a bird, whose graceful wings provide the ability to carry you across thousands of miles of varying landscapes, the world below might look fairly non-descript.

Human beings would appear like thousands of tiny ants all running around chaotically from one place to another – all seemingly “the same”.

Outward appearances often reveal very little about a persons triumphs and failures. The facades we create when we walk out the front door each and every morning conceal sorrow, insecurity, fear and a host of other feelings and emotions we keep safely guarded from everyone but those we truly know we can rely on.

The other day I found myself somewhat humbled by several stories, which were shared to me in confidence, none befitting the outward appearance of where they were coming from. Stories of hardships and struggles, which weren’t easily deduced by the façade this person wore each and every day. I suppose we all protect ourselves from judgments and criticisms rendered from a society that cares little about what’s on the inside of its fellow man.

During this holiday season, don’t just assume that the smiles we see before us are signs of genuine happiness. Many of us are struggling with a sense of loss during the holidays, and sometimes forcing a smile is an easy distraction from being asked “what’s bothering you,” but only internalizes the sadness we feel rather than dealing with it.

I’m guilty of this. While there is still great joy in my life, this time of year reminds me of my youth and the many cherished individuals who brought special meaning to Christmas. While some of them are gone from this earth forever, and others just simply gone from my life, the emptiness can be quite profound at times – a forced smile preventing me from having to deal with the emotions that tug at my heart.

Carol Nelson once said that, “Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.”

I suspect many of us can relate to that statement. We all have stories we don’t always choose to share with the world around us. Instead we walk around concealing our hurt or unhappiness behind a smile – even at the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s important not to lament what you’ve lost in life, but celebrate everything you’ve gained each and every day you journey on – no matter how big or small.

Communicate with each other this holiday season. Celebrate the stories and traditions of the past and accept that a necessary part of any holiday is the mourning of what is no more. But above all, be thankful that you’re still here to experience all the possibilities the future has to offer.

Happy Holidays!