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Got Holidays?

Published in the December 2009 NAMI Augusta Azalea newsletter

Does the upcoming Holiday season fill you with happiness, or dread? Is this time of year commonly stressful for you, full of disagreements, hurt feelings among family members and friends, and just a time of unrealized hopes and dreams? If so, you have lots of company!

The 12-Step Programs have a saying that I "love-hate," that's very appropriate at this time of the year: "Expectations are premeditated resentments. (Now you know why it brings me mixed-feelings! It is so true!)

Christmas and Hanukkah are so commercialized now that children and adults have visions of multiple, expensive presents, that fulfill their every fantasy... The actual reasons that we have these important celebrations are often lost in the pre-holiday mad-rush to buy everything on hubby's and junior's "Wish List." The moral and psychic value of these most precious days are lost in the "hoopla."

Parents and others who cannot meet the demands of their offspring are made to feel that they have somehow "failed" in their duties as a "good parent." That, in and of itself, is hogwash-- it's a cleverly constructed misconception fostered by the stores who want you to come in and bankrupt yourself every year in the name of love.

Love is not a synonym for "material goods." It is teaching values, morals, sharing the spirit of these holidays, and filling your kids' and families' cups brimming full of affection, time together, and real, actual, bone fide love for one another.

Suicides and suicide attempts go up among the mentally ill during the holiday season... I would sure like to see that statistic change in our lifetime. I believe it is because many of us are marginally employed, and therefore, feel as if we can't live up to the expectations society places upon our families to buy more, get more, go into debt. We can turn around our own expectations, and turn our holidays into lovefests, instead of "buyfests." Our children will only benefit.

The greatest gift that you can give anyone is the gift of time with you. Instead of giving a wrapped-up box this year, let someone have the true gift of you opening-up your heart and soul by telling them how much they've meant to you over the past year: Give examples. Everyone loves to hear that they are meaningful to a family member or friend. Give it a try!

Have a healthy, safe, and Happy Holiday Season! Love to you all!

---Cheri Stephenson 11/07/09 (My 54th Birthday!)

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