Let's Be Jolly
December 23, 2013
Apparently it’s the season for it… that and “decking the halls”. Lots of parties and social gatherings; meeting up with family and old friends; making new friends; wining and dining and having a lovely time.
That’s how it is in the Hudson Household… for most of the time. But the last eight days of December show a very varied emotional calendar for the immediate family. Within that time frame we celebrate Christmas and New Year; we have three birthdays… and the memory of two sudden, shocking deaths.
It means that, amidst all the joy and laughter, there are some tears. When it is just family and close friends then no-one minds the moments of remembrance and some sadness… but at wider gatherings it can sometimes be a little more challenging. I recall one party where I had taken myself away from the main hub-bub for a moment of reflection (when the jolly DJ had put on a Christmas classic that reminded me of one of the family who we lost far too soon and without warning). I was just standing quietly, taking some time to gather myself when another party-goer passed by, full of Christmas spirit (I definitely got a whiff of whisky,) and told me “Cheer Up… It’s Christmas”.
It seems that during the last ten days of the year “Let’s Be Jolly” seems to be some unwritten rule… and most of the time I manage it. But not all of the time.
Christmas can be a wonderful time of year… but not all of the time, and not for everyone.
As you all know “comfort eating” used to be my default setting. In the past food and drink is my antidote to difficult or unhappy feelings. I recall returning to the main party and drinking extraordinary amounts of Cinzano and lemonade in an attempt to be chipper and cheerful. It worked. I was the life and soul. I danced myself dizzy; shared Christmas quips with guests; and laughed heartily at the worst possible Christmas-cracker jokes. All with a glass of something % in my hand and plate piled high with party food.
I now know that I don’t need alcohol to alter my mood (and party food isn’t actually all that good most of the time). Looking back, getting on the dance floor or sharing a few silly jokes with friends would have been enough to move me from my fleeting moment of sadness back to a “happy headspace”… but as a comfort eater …
Food and drink is all around at this time at this time… and emotions can also run high which can be a tricky combination, particularly if you are inclined to seek solace in a “glass of something” or fix the situation with something to eat.
Having fun during the Christmas season, sharing the festive food, enjoying a tipple or two, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all… but also there’s nothing wrong with not always being the life and soul of the party; not being in a permanently “happy place” for the last two weeks of every year.
It may be on record that “tis to be the season to be jolly”, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Life has a habit of throwing rocks in the road and pays little heed to the calendar. A side-swipe can come at any time; it can be small or earth-shattering; it can hit you hard and leave you reeling, and find you feeling anything but festive.
If you are sharing the holidays with family and friends, I hope you have a wonderful time, but just, once in a while, take a look around and if you see that someone is struggling… you may not be able to manage to bring joy into their life, but you can certainly help with the comfort. It may be a kind word; it may just be sitting quietly. It could be seeing someone who is alone and lonely and offering some companionship.
At this time of the year it is easy to overlook the fact that others may be suffering or struggling, particularly if they are doing what so many of us do and putting a brave face on it. They may be the ones who are absolutely the centre of attention and the life and soul of the party. Or perhaps they are seeking comfort in food, drink… anything that they hope will take away the pain of their circumstance. You may not be able to divert them, you may not be able to make things better but at least you will know you have tried.
And if you are one of those people who find themselves facing difficult or painful issues at this time of the year, you are not alone. There is a lot of truth in the “tears of a clown” statement…at times pretending to be happy is the best way of hiding the truth, from others and ourselves. Or perhaps you are someone who turns to seeking comfort from something that you will hope alleviate the situation, even if only for a little while.
If you are on your weight loss journey but know that you seek solace in food and drink and know that this time of year is particularly challenging both emotionally and nutritionally then just do the best you can. You don’t have to get it right all the time; it doesn’t have to be perfect; doing your best is just that…and you deserve your best.
Planning and preparation can help you through much of the “Merry Christmas” minefield… knowing your weaknesses; pinpointing your triggers; finding ways of channelling your emotions and tendencies… none of these are easy but they can make a difference. So can being honest with people. If you need “time out” take it; if people ask what the matter is – if you want to share with them then do, if you want to keep it private just say so politely. Life is complex and complicated. The weight loss journey can be equally so… and this time of year can magnify so many things – good and bad. Try and deal with “the bad” in the best way you are able… and take comfort in all that is good out there.
With a huge Holiday Hug.