Hope for Peace and Joy

November 4, 2019, Shirley Blake

Three years ago, my son’s preschool class made mini-pumpkin pies. I still admire his teacher for leading the baking project. The pumpkin pie was small, cute, and the smell was both comforting and mouthwatering. Luckily, my preschooler shared some of his little pie with me and boy was that little pumpkin pie was yummy! My taste buds may be biased to my son’s baked desserts but I will credit his baking skills. It made me think that things are to be enjoyed no matter how big or small. Quality over quantity, a good motto to focus on this holiday season.

For the past few months, I have been covering protective factors in blogs. Along with the two remaining months of the 2019 year are two protective factors yet to be covered. The protective factor I am covering this month is support, having concrete support in times of need. I choose this one specifically because the holidays are very near and it can be bittersweet based on multiple factors like family dynamics, expectations or finances. Holidays can be extremely overwhelming and stressful but I truly believe it does not have to be that way. Feeling confident in having concrete support is not always true during the holidays yet you can still clarify and identify what you need and plan realistically. Here is how I have learned to manage in honoring the spirit of peace and joy throughout the holiday season.

As I have mentioned previously both of my parents emigrated here from Mexico. Growing up holidays were a combination of traditional Mexican celebrations and learning about United State traditions. My childhood holiday celebrations were super simple and not very materialistic. We had fun trying out new foods like green bean casserole, turkey and had enchiladas or tamales. It was truly the best of both worlds.

Having children of my own has been different there are multiple dynamics that add to the differences like having social media, multiple family events, and changing family structures. Factors like this change expectations and demands and sometimes it can be for the worse. So how do we navigate these changes and still have a good time?

Let us talk about social media. It has its pros and cons. I really enjoy social media because I feel connected to people I care about without having to actually use energy and time to connect. It’s great for modern day busy lives. I can dislike it because I sometimes find myself unconsciously comparing my life to others that have different means/styles than myself. I also can get sucked into the demanding feelings of obligation or guilt of not doing

something. Let me give you an example. I knew October was going to be an extremely busy month for me personally and for my family. I did not carve pumpkins with my children nor did we attend the pumpkin patch as a family like in years past. Luckily my children were able to go on school field trips to the pumpkin patch and grandma took them on a fall outing. I did not feel guilty, my kids did not think twice about it and maybe next year we can go to the pumpkin patch as a family or carve pumpkins. Sometimes we are not able to do it all due to time constraints, finances, or other reasons, and for me that is okay.

Another stress factor can be multiple family events, dynamics or family ambiance. I was recently talking to a friend about the holidays and they shared with me that they dread the holidays because of the reactive and dramatic behaviors of some family members. I reassured her of her choices, we always have the choice of not participating, participating with limits and communicating and planning.

All right so the choice of not participating, a family member let me know that this year for the holidays they would like to enjoy the holidays exclusively with their significant other. I respect and understand their choice and we are all okay with this. Another choice we have is participating with limits. For instance if holidays are overwhelming you can choose to attend a family event for an hour or whichever amount of time you choose. You may want to participate in all of your family events and can communicate your needs or wants. I know many people that do events with friends too.

Friendly reminder folks, holidays don’t have to be a certain way nor are you obligated attach to any idealistic expectations. It is much less stressful with fewer expectations. Plan with realistic knowledge of what you would like. Stay within your means and be creative in ways that align with your values. Enjoy your piece of the pie this holiday season and have fun doing so!

Stay tuned for more ways to have support this holiday season! Please be sure to check out our local Holiday Resource guide!