Why The Holidays Are Hard

By Sam Jolman | December 21, 2014

photo-1423477491197-ec2f29ac4d6bLets face it. No one can escape the festal fervor of this season. Whether you want to or not, you are anticipating Christmas.

Blame it on everyone.

Like Starbucks, with those beady little red cups everywhere. Which I imagine to have little elven voices, calling out, “Merry Holidays!” You can’t miss them even if you wanted to.

Blame it on the Christmas music that becomes our sound track for just about everything we do this time of year. I just pumped gas the other day to a lovely version of Silent night.

Its your neighbor’s fault for his insane light display. Like my old neighbor who had not one, but two identical Spongebob Santa’s in his yard. Side by side, those twin Bob’s waved those puny little arms at me every time I left the house.

Add to this all those excessive store ads. Everything you could ever want is on sale somewhere this time of year. And it all looks so good at that price. When things are stacked on pallets, don’t you just feel like you need one.

And if all this wasn’t enough, you will get offered goodies upon delicious goodies wherever you go. Work, the bank, or all those myriad of parties you attend. And its all such good food. It is eggnog season. If you tapped a vein, I think I’d bleed eggnog this time of year.

And all of this feasting with your closest friends and relatives. With nothing to do but sit around and talk or play or dance. I dare say we talk more and do more with the people closest to us this season than any other time.

Yes, all this fanfare and preparation and frenzy creates a current of excitement and anticipation that not a single person alive can avoid. If you’re up for it, it can be pretty exciting.

But what if you’re not?

Many people experience a lot of heartache this time of year. There’s a reason the night before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking night of the year. I don’t think that’s random. A lot of folks are drowning in sorrow this time of year. So why is that? With all the anticipation of a party, you’d think we’d be one big happy bunch of folks.

I think its this one thing: This season stokes so much desire in us all. And desire creates a dilemma.

I was talking with Amanda tonight and she said, “I want it all. I want that Pottery Barn Christmas catalogue picture to be my house. I want all the clothes on those snow tromping clothing models to be my every day attire. And I’ll take their joy filled smiles while I’m at it. I want every meal to be Pintrest worthy – decadent and artfully prepared. I want all the magic.”

“But they don’t tell you it takes hours to make that one meal. Or that it would take thousands of dollars to decorate your house that way. Or that those models that look like a family together don’t really even know each other.”

“I want it all. And its impossible to have it all.”

There it is. Don’t you want it all? Not just stuff. All of the magic and wonder and joy and love and pleasure and relationship.

And we simply cannot have life with this much fullness.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a slap-on-the-hand-just-stop-wanting-so-much message. You were made to want it all. Seriously. Your heart was made for Eden. For satisfaction and joy. For the time and space and money to have your heart satisfied on a continual basis. You were meant to experience life as a party. Deep intimacy and deep pleasure.

And we don’t live in a world like this anymore. We all live east of Eden. And this world is cursed with being incomplete, broken, distant, dead, painful

This is why the holidays are so hard. They stir such deep desire. And with it, such opportunity for pain and disappointment.

You miss those people who won’t be with you this year. Or you simply ache for better relationship, even in the midst of lots of relationships. Parties come to an end. Gifts don’t bring the joy you anticipated. And your stomach is only so big.

This season can be such a reminder for all of us that life is not what it was meant to be. So do your heart a favor. Give it space to grieve, permission to long for more. Its the only way the good things that happen can truly be enjoyed.

And may Goodness indeed find you this Christmas, in the places in your heart you need it most.

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