Are you growing up in a home or did you grow up in a home where you faced adversities? Because if you experienced adversities like physical abuse, Childhood Domestic Violence, emotional abuse, neglect, or any others, Thanksgiving and "holiday time" are often confusing and uncomfortable. Which is maddening because aren't they supposed to be cheerful and joyous?
The home you grew up in was not traditional, but the day was expected to be
Know that you are not alone in your feelings. The home you grew up in was not traditional. It was nothing like what you saw in the movies...nothing like what you perceived it should be like at your friend's house.
But somehow, all was expected to be traditional during the holidays. And for many, for that one-day, it actually was better...better than a typical day.
But then soon after, the food was eaten, the relatives went home and it went back to what it always was. The magic was gone. And so was the hope.
If you struggled in your childhood home, you probably still struggle with holidays
Just because you grow up and leave the environment doesn't mean that you automatically grow out of what was learned. With all the stimuli that hits us surrounding the holidays, it's easier to trigger those old emotions.
And let's not forget, everyone is back together...under one roof. And often, it's the same roof under which the adversities took place.
Just because you grow up doesn't mean you automatically unlearn the negative beliefs or the LIES you learned in that house.
But some have found a way to bring the magic back to the holidays
I have spoken with thousands of people who grew up facing adversities in their childhood home, as I researched my book INVINCIBLE, many of them facing adversities you could not imagine. And listening to their stories taught me how to take small steps and small actions that, when combined, create feelings of gratitude and joy within them and within those they have the privilege to touch.
There is a way to get the magic back. Not by trying to recreate scenes from "It's a Wonderful Life" (although I do love that movie), but rather by learning from those who have come before us. Here are some of my favorite, shared by others:
"From Thanksgiving thru New Years, in my mind, I am the child I never got to be. Each day take I five minutes and ask myself: "When I was in grade school, what were some of the things I loved to do during the holidays? What did I look forward to? And then I take an immediate simple step towards doing it." - Sandra
"I buy a case of inexpensive wine, wrap each bottle, and keep them in my car. Then, throughout the season, I give a gift to someone who is not on my holiday list, but someone who I still care about. It's the best $50 dollars I spend all year." - Ron
"My wife and I both experienced Childhood Domestic Violence. On Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, when we visit our parents as we are walking up to the door, we look at one another and remind one another that for this day, we will have compassion. We learned that both of our parents grew up in violent homes and never unlearned what they learned. For this day, we are the parents and they are the children. It was hard at first, but now they have become the most enjoyable days of the year. We have gotten closer because of it." - Jennifer
"I personally make sure that when I celebrate a holiday like Thanksgiving, I try to create a setting that minimizes or even eliminates the possibility of bringing back any negative memories of my childhood. For example, when we have Thanksgiving at my home, there can't be any alcohol. When my parents fought during my childhood, either one or both of them had been drinking. I also do my best to be surrounded by people and things that make me happy now. What I personally found is the positives have slowly but surely helped me celebrate holidays more than think about events from my childhood." - Roger
"Food!!! I absolutely love cooking and eating good holiday food. I make it a point to have a good meal with people I care about." - Carlie
What do you do to make the holidays special for you and those you care about? Please share with us in the comments.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.