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When the Holidays Feel Hard

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Here’s the truth. The holidays have always felt hard for me. An only child of divorce, I always felt like everyone was gathering in warm, cozy houses drinking hot apple cider and being merry without me. 

As an adult I learned that the holidays were often challenging, complicated, and bittersweet for others as well – I was not alone!

When the Holidays Feel Hard by Shira Gill Home

Now that I have my own jolly little family, I have created new rituals and traditions for the holidays. While I do enjoy our parties and get-togethers, I also find that as soon as December approaches, I feel a wave of melancholy and something like loneliness. I might add that feeling lonely while surrounded by people might be the harshest form of loneliness there is.

So here my holiday survival tips for anyone else out there who finds themselves feeling sad this time of year: 

Talk About It

Most people don’t walk around broadcasting that they’re having a hard time, but I’ve seen time and time again how vulnerability leads to connection. Let the people you love know if you are going through a hard time so they can commiserate and/or support you. 

Create Space for Sadness

Anyone who knows me knows that this is a tough one for me. I love to stay busy, and I thrive when I am zipping from thing to thing. But, I’ve learned that you can’t outrun sadness, so it helps to carve out a little space for it. My Dad’s birthday was January 2nd and the anniversary of his death is in February, so the winter months always stir up a lot of complicated emotions for me. I’ve found it helpful to make sure I have some solo time to write, walk, think, and grieve.  

Create What You Want

I spent years feeling sorry for myself and wasting time on the same old story before I figured out that adults get to create what they want. Hooray! Instead of dwelling on the idea that I grew up without a big family, and don’t have any holiday traditions to celebrate, I started creating my own. Now we host an annual holiday bash for our closest friends that I look forward to every year. 

When the Holidays Feel Hard by Shira Gill Home

Ruthlessly Invite Yourself to Other People’s Houses 

This is not a joke. Last year, I told two of my dear friends (Hedy and Naomi) that I wanted to crash their holiday traditions. Luckily for me, they were happy to oblige. Hedy hosted Christmas Eve complete with stockings for the girls (we’re Jewish but love Christmas) and Naomi invited us to her amazing lobster fettuccini family dinner Christmas Day. I believe that people love to be generous and inclusive if given the opportunity, so don’t be shy. 

Do More Good

There have been all sorts of research about the power of generosity and giving back. One of the most effective ways I know to stop a pity party dead in its tracks is to focus on contribution. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Donate something nice to someone in need. Pay for somebody’s coffee at Starbucks. Little things make a big difference and there is literally no downside to giving back. 

Sending all of you love this holiday season, whether you are jolly or sad or a bit of both. Happy Holidays. Xx

P.S. I’m busy creating a brand new program to help you kick off 2020 on the right foot. Look out for all the details headed your way in the next few weeks!

Image Credit: Homey Oh My 

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12 comments on “When the Holidays Feel Hard

  1. This is beautiful. So many need to hear these words, so thank you for being brave enough to share a piece of your story!

  2. Thank you for your honesty Shira. This easily is the most useful commentary on holiday affect. I am proud of you and what you are creating for your family and others. All the best for a wonderful 2020.

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