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December 12, 2023

December 2023: What to do when we Can’t Feel the Joy that Hallmark Wants us to Feel.

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.

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Why can’t we feel the joy that Hallmark wants us to feel?

No matter what beliefs we hold dear, there is often a split between what society says we should feel and what we do feel during the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa season.

Do you look forward to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa and feel nothing but excitement, or do you walk around with the mask of “pretender,” “pleaser,” “hider,” or “denier?”

Maybe you feel a mix of many feelings. One of my friends says she feels like she has a bipolar illness this time of year (and she doesn’t feel that way any other time). Another friend says that she feels uncomfortable this time of year, but she’s determined to make the best of it.

As for me, there’s an emotional dichotomy going on right now in my soul in 2023, and I know that I’m not alone.

The lights, shopping, gathering with family, gifts, and festivities have the potential to be genuinely exciting, and for many people it is, but for others, the season of lights throws them down a dark rabbit hole filled with all kinds of emotional stress.

Here are two layers of reasons why December 2023 might be bringing more heartache than happiness to many of us.

Layer One: Six Reasons why it might be hard to be in the holiday spirit. (I’m sure I missed a few).

>> We lost loved ones, miss them terribly, and it’s just not the same without them.

>> We’re estranged from some of our family members.

>> We feel the pressure of gift buying at a time when we’re financially strapped.

>> We’re introverted and are socially uncomfortable.

>> We feel alone at a time when it seems like everyone else has someone.

>> We’re part of a minority religion that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and when this season rolls around, we feel like “the other,” and on the outside looking in.

Layer Two: Countless Reasons why it might be hard to be in the holiday spirit. (This is where I am 80 percent of the time.)

>> How can we get into the spirit of the holidays of light, love, and kindness when innocent Israelis were slaughtered, raped, and mutilated while sleeping in bed in their cozy kibbutz?

>> How can we get into the holiday spirit when there’s been a genocide in Gaza with innocent Palestinians caught between the crossfires of Hamas and Israel?

>> How can we get into the spirit of the holidays of light, love, and kindness when there are hostages waiting to be freed who may be killed either by Hamas or by “friendly fire” while they are waiting and waiting and waiting?

>> How can we get into the spirit of the holidays of light, love, and kindness when Antisemitism and Islamophobia are rampant and fear is the dominant feeling in every Jewish and Muslim soul?

>> How can we get into the spirit of the holidays of light, love, and kindness when Ukraine is still at war? It’s not talked about in the news as much, but any sensitive human can feel it as they go about their holiday activities.

>> How can we get into the spirit of the holidays of light, love, and kindness when so many innocent children have been murdered by the atrocity of war?

Survivor’s guilt burns itself into the psyche of every conscious and loving human being, and I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to be carefree and full of “fa la la la la,” “I have a little Dreidel,” and “This Little Light of Mine” this year.

And I haven’t even mentioned all the mass murders, terrorist threats, world hunger, poverty, homelessness, climate calamities, injustices, discrimination, irrational biases, and our precious democracy at stake.

I usually write “up” pieces. Optimistic and full of hope. So, in that spirit, let me circle around to peace and hope as our mantra for this year and beyond.

Self-Healing Tools when Life Feels Hopeless:

>> Deep breathe and return to this moment. Here. Now. This.

>> Stop the world, put both hands on your heart, and breathe long, slow, and deep breaths.

>> As you do continue to deep breathe, think of a positive power word and whisper this word into every inhale and exhale.

>> As you think that positive power word, visualize. See that word in action and visualize it as if it is already true.

>> When you’re ready, open your eyes and write all your feelings down in a journal.

>> After you’re done, do one activity that brings nurturing and joy to your soul. Dance barefoot to your favorite music, take healing walks in nature, sing, hum, be silly, play the kazoo, take your inner child out for a date, and do anything and everything that will get you back to the feeling of “fa la la la la,” “I have a Little Dreidel,” and “This Little Light of Mine” joy.

And remember. Peace Begins with Me. Let’s be the changes we want, imagine, and hope for, and most of all, let’s be more sensitive to each other. What we see on the outside isn’t always the truth.

It’s not only time for Christmas trees, Menorahs, and Kinaras, it’s also the time for extra compassion, empathy, extra kindness, generosity, unconditional love, and the Golden Rule.

I leave you with the Metta Meditation Prayer of Loving Kindness.

May I be happy.

May I be well.

May I be safe.

May I be at peace and at ease.

 

May you be happy.

May you be well.

May you be safe.

May you be at peace and at ease.

 

May the whole world be happy.

May the whole world be well.

May the whole world be safe.

May the whole world be at peace and at ease.

 

To see a video of my saying this prayer with my sound healing bowls, here is the link.

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