Unhappy Holidays

The holiday season is stereotypically happy. It’s a time of cheer, good company, and thanksgiving. It’s also a really, really inconvenient time to feel sad in life.

I have had crappy holiday seasons before, mainly the Thanksgiving/Christmas of 2013. Everybody else seemed to be overflowing with good feelings, and I just kind of sat there. Any display of feeling seemed fake, but I didn’t want to come off as ungrateful. I didn’t want to rain on everyone’s parade. There was an internal conflict between wanting to be honest and not wanting to ruin everything. So I just withdrew. During family gatherings, I took my book and tried not to make contact with anyone. I didn’t have the energy to be phony.

And I felt guilty for not being happy. For me, it meant that I wasn’t grateful. Having a happy heart was a requirement for having a thankful heart. I felt I didn’t even have a right to feel miserable, anyway. I was an intelligent, well-off, privileged teenager–I thought I was just a whiner. An ungrateful whiner. Deep down, though, I was thankful. I appreciated what I had, and I wasn’t demanding for more. There was plenty of gratefulness in my heart; I just couldn’t express it very well.

Like me, you can be thankful without being happy. Gratefulness is not insincere just because you don’t have a big grin on your face. In fact, there is nothing truer and more genuine than having thankfulness even when you aren’t happy in life. Do not feel guilty for not wanting to smile and dance.

As you go through the rest of this holiday season, remember that your feelings are valid any time of the year.

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