Whatever you celebrate, or don’t, the onslaught of “Happy Holidays!” can be an unintended reminder of all that we no longer have, or never had to begin with.
Some of us try to preserve the rituals of our past life, only to find them flat now; others abandon those rituals altogether, only to crave them later on, missing the idiosyncratic traditions that died when that person did. As years pass, we find ourselves missing the rawness of those “first” holidays: what was once a giant black hole that threatened to consume the other seats at the table is now an elephant that lurks in the corner, harder to name, but no less present. The end result? What Ashley, a host of ours, calls The Trifecta of Sadness: the back-to-back holidays that make her miss her mom all the more.
But here’s the good news: The holidays don’t have to suck.
We cannot separate the bitter from the sweet, and we know enough to know we wouldn’t want to. It’s not the ache that’s the problem. It’s all we do to cover-up that ache.
Check out our Holiday Guide for Dinner Partier-tested conversation-starters, reflection exercises, and tips on taking care o’ you amidst a season that’s harder than most. Thanks to Dinner Partier Eva Silverman of Pushcart Design for making it beautiful, Lindsey Blue-Smith, Kathleen Callaghy, Sarah Gardner Eachus, Karen Erlichman, Ashley Gunn, Mandy Hixon Hanna, Allison Jones, Genevieve Jones , Micky ScottBey Jones, and Esther Kustanowitz for sharing your stories, and our friends at OptionB for releasing version as a part of their #OptionBThere For The Holidays conversation.