As Middlehood women (between 40 and 65), we always try to cut people a lot of slack at this time of the year. If drivers are rude, shoppers are pushy, family and friends are overwhelmed or depressed, we can guess what they are feeling – the pressure to create the perfect holiday and feel perfectly happy. We know, because we feel it too. Some years, we are able and up to the task, joyfully spending money on loved ones; happily attending gatherings of friends; or singing along with endless replays of holiday songs. Other years, it feels nearly impossible.
It is hard enough to live with all of our challenges and struggles during the rest of the year, but during the holidays it can be much more difficult. We are bombarded with images of family, love, home, friends, gifts and money from Thanksgiving through December and because of that, every way that we do not fit those images becomes strikingly apparent. Are we worried about money? Do we feel disconnected from our family because of distance or difficulties? Did we just move and have no good friends to celebrate with? Did we lose a loved one or our house this year? Did we or a loved one just get a terrifying diagnosis? Are we divorced and struggling with the children splitting their time between two homes? There could be a hundred different ways that we do not fit the media image of what it means to have a happy holiday and every one of those ways could cause us to feel a sense of failure or pain.
Here in Middlehood, we have learned some good lessons through all the holidays we have celebrated or survived. It is especially important that we remember them in the midst of the stress and pressure.
Maybe in this last month of the year we are all in need of kindness as much or more than any other time of the year. Maybe in these few weeks, we can take our attention off of the glitter and put it on the light of kindness and compassion.