When the Holidays Hurt: How to Get Back to Gratitude

It’s sweater season again. The atmosphere’s aglow with holiday bulbs, tinsel-trimmed trees and the luster of long buried credit cards emerging at checkouts. I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays. A part of me revels in the romance of tradition, the spirit of celebration. At the same time, I’m reminded of unfortunate family dynamics. I’m haunted by ghosts of my past.

My bandaged wounds become exposed to the salt and air of seasonal reminders. I recall childhood traumas and insecurities I’ve fought hard to lose. For so many people, the holidays hurt. They show us what’s missing and broken, what we lost and what we lack.

Let that shit go, I say to my own tortured soul. Gratitude is a muscle. Work it out.

I cannot control what’s been done, nor can I control the future. I’m not here to “steer the river,” but to keep my own heart afloat. So this post is for me as much as it is for anyone in pain, anyone struggling to be optimistic this season.

Getting Back to Gratitude

In my effort to get back to gratitude, I find a quiet place to speak to my soul. I relax in Savasana and tell myself this story:

I wasn’t born knowing hatred.

I wasn’t born feeling pain.

But as I lived, I bled, because life knocked me down everyday.

I swallowed the seeds of resentment and watered the crop with my thoughts.

So it grew.

Unforgiveness is fertile ground.

But I am my own heart’s gardener.

And today I choose to plant gratitude.

I understand that I can make all things work together for the evolution of my soul.

Today I am thankful. I am bruised but not broken. I have suffered but I have learned. I’ve been abused and mistreated but I have also been loved.

As I breathe, I live. And as I live, I feel richly blessed.

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