Moment of reflection to start the holidays during this strange end of the year in lockdown. "Surreal" is the word that keeps coming to mind. For quite some time, life has been going on as if we lived in an alternate universe, and during the holidays it is even stranger.
After a year of many sacrifices, over sixty days of lockdown and several holidays in between, reality requires us to give up the traditions that are dear to us and to distance ourselves from the people we might feel we have already spent too much time without seeing.
And many are going through this season with a sense of grief over the loss of loved ones, the loss of purpose, perhaps even the loss of hope.
Maybe it's not you. Perhaps you are filled with gratitude for all that you have, and now appreciate even more, due to the pandemic, and the lockdown during the holidays.
Some days I look around and feel undeniably blessed for my health, my family and all my needs being met. Other days I feel the weight of these long months of isolation and meditate on lost time.
One can be in a similar position, swinging like a pendulum between gratitude and pain.
Whatever your situation, I've fixed some thoughts on how to deal with the following weeks of the holidays in lockdown, in a safe way. Thanks to feelings such as peace, hope and joy. Wherever it is, you look for it.
This is the greatest, and the most difficult reflection to swallow and follow. It has been a difficult year, a year marked by loss and grief for many. We are tired of all this and we want this pandemic behind us, but it is not yet.
So as much as we would like to throw caution to the wind and end the year celebrating with all the people we love, we all need to do our part to protect ourselves and the people around us.
Not the most exciting way to start this article, I know, but I thought I'd take this weight off!
As I imagine you have experienced too, different people have very different perspectives on what constitutes "prudence", and some are willing to take greater risks.
If you are considering reuniting with family during these lockdown holidays, it is essential to clarify where everyone is, what precautions each one takes in daily life, and what precautions will be followed on the same day.
Don't assume you know how others think, unless they've clearly communicated it, because it's possible you are wrong.
It can be difficult. When people make choices that may seem reckless to you, or push beliefs you can't agree with, you can feel hurt, frustrated, or even outraged.
It's hard to separate a person from their choices, especially when it comes to something as emotionally charged as pandemic security, and it's hard not to take it personally if their choices seem selfish to you.
Don't take it personally, there's no point in getting angry. Do not change anyone's opinion, I assure you it does not improve the situation. Try to empathize with people who see things differently than you do.
This does not mean that we must condone decisions we disagree with or put ourselves at risk in some way. It just means that we accept what we cannot control and choose love over righteousness, however justified it may seem.
Things might not have been easy for you. Even if you're healthy, have a job and a roof over your head, and haven't lost any of your loved ones, your mental health has likely suffered this year.
I know it impacted mine.
You may feel lonely, discouraged, overwhelmed, impatient, or even depressed right now. You may also feel frustrated at having to change your usual vacation plans, at a time when you may really need a little more love, joy and social connection.
It's okay to feel frustrated. It's okay to hear whatever you're feeling, even if you know you're lucky.
It's hard to be away from the people we love, especially during the holidays, and lose the traditions we care about most. Be very kind to yourself and know that it is okay if your gratitude is mixed with a wide range of complex emotions.
I know how tempting it is to live in resistance every day, especially when a lot has been lost, or when things seem unfair. I know how easy it is to get caught up in how things should be or should have been or would have been (…).
What I don't know is what you have been through in particular or what you are feeling right now. So know that I am definitely not suggesting that acceptance is easy, or that I would be able to do it easily if I were in your shoes.
I can only talk about the general idea of acceptance, and how it frees us mentally when we stop fighting reality. I know that when we accept what we cannot control, we are free to focus on the things we can control and make the best of them.
I also know that I feel better for who I am and ultimately better for life when I come from a place of acceptance, even if it takes time to get there. I am lighter, more present, more accessible to the people around me, and more inclined to see opportunities where before I only saw injustice.
As with everything in life, this is all temporary. Things will not always be like this. We will have other holidays without lockdowns. These challenges, these feelings, won't last forever. Eventually, we will overcome all of this and be able to live more freely.
While life won't be exactly the same for many, we will find a new normal and new reasons to smile as we adjust to the evolving life.
It might be hard to see now. It may seem that this experiential earthquake will send shockwaves for years, and we will never find our place again. But we are incredibly resilient as people.
Chances are you have had some very difficult experiences in your life, and you have come out stronger, wiser, and perhaps even enriched for having lived what you have gone through.
Trust that, in all likelihood, not only will you get through all of this, but you will have many more reasons to smile and many more parties to celebrate with the people you love.
This year will be told like a crazy story in all of our rear view mirrors, as long as we continue to drive, cautiously, down this somewhat treacherous road ahead of us.
One of the gifts of any challenge is that we need to be a little more creative, which in itself can be a source of pride and joy.
This is your chance to do more with less, to find beauty in simplicity, to make the most of what you have and maybe even to start new habits.
I guess you learned the art of connecting online this year. So now let's move on to the next level. How can you celebrate creatively with people from afar? And how can you honor the people standing in front of you, even if they are just some of the ones you love?
So here we are. At the end of a strange and painful year, with months of uncertainty, holidays in lockdown, and potential stress and struggle. Nobody would blame us if we looked back: it's like there is a huge rear-end collision of multiple cars behind us, it's hard not to be amazed.
And no one would be surprised if we looked forward to the future, worrying about the potential for more accidents along the way. You may not have your needs met, and you may feel unsafe in your home.
If it is difficult, be good to yourself. Then try again. Try to see the beauty right in front of you, even if you have to search a little more.
Try to feel the magic in the music that is playing, even if you wish you could tie the lyrics to someone who is far away. Take deep breaths, take an inventory of everything that is going well, and then let yourself go, in this moment, to enjoy all there is to enjoy.
I believe that one of the gifts of particularly difficult moments is the fact of remembering things that are always true, but that we often forget: that life is short, that nothing is guaranteed, that every moment with the people we love is precious, and that every day is in the end what we make of it.