On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I walked into an appointment and the receptionist asked, “How was your Thanksgiving?” I replied, “Great and yours?”
Her reply, “Not so good. It was a bad day.”
My stomach dropped because the truth was that I didn’t have a good day either. My Thanksgiving, like the receptionist’s, was a bad day.
While I never like to use the phrase, “should have,” this time I am giving myself a pass. I should have said mine wasn’t great either, but instead said I was sorry for her bad day.
I know that people don’t often have an easy time during the holidays, but I trick myself into thinking that the person inquiring will have had the perfect holiday. I believe that in sharing the disappointment, sadness or stress of the day I come up short of the Hallmark Holiday. When a holiday or special occasion is difficult, there is a part of me that believes I am partly responsible, and, therefore, I am somehow bad because my image of what I had hoped for the day does not match up to my experience.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this exchange with the receptionist, the holidays and how I didn’t own the truth of my day. I felt embarrassed, disappointed and sad. I lost an opportunity for genuine connection, and may have left her feeling like she was alone; the only one who had a bad day on Thanksgiving.
The holidays have never been an easy time for me. I struggle to keep up when I would really like to slow down, reflect and gaze at the twinkling Christmas lights. I often feel a pit in my stomach around the “holiday excitement,” like I haven’t done something quite right or have the “nice” family that can put pain, anger and frustration to rest for the day.
So at a time when I know that I am not alone in the possibility of having a challenging time during the holidays, I am reminded to be a little kinder, more sensitive and patient with people because we never really know what is happening for them during this season.
On Thanksgiving morning, I asked myself this question, “What is most meaningful to you during this time of year?” I asked this of myself and let the quiet of the Arizona mountains respond. Maybe for you to0, asking this question could be helpful during the holiday season.
What is most meaningful to you during this time of year?