Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Staying Honest This Season

I know you celebrate something... Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas or that Seinfeld holiday George made up. There is almost inescapable, manic pressure in our country to wrap perfect presents when the weather turns cold. Whatever it is that has you pulling out your dress slacks and making that bread bowl spinach dip people go crazy for, I actually won't suggest that you "remember the reason for the Season.”

I won't suggest you savor the glow in a child's eyes as the warm radiance of holiday lights glisten off the snow reflecting their timeless joy. Those messages often shame us. We end up hauling our overtired 6-year-old away from the damn bowl of red and green M&M's for the millionth time at the holiday party of the snippy neighbor we resolved to be nicer to, using that harsh voice we resolved last New Year’s to abolish.

I could instead give you permission to leave the wrapping paper all over the floor and roll in it after opening presents, to get a babysitter on December 23rd, and eat the grilled cheese sandwich you actually like, instead of your aunt's beef wellington.

That's good, but what I really want to suggest you do this winter is something taboo. Really taboo. I want you to talk to your kids about how all the pressure of the magic and merriment stresses people out and explain that they're probably feeling that too. About how wonderful family get-togethers sometimes cause a confusing pit in their stomachs because it seems like everyone is smiling, but a lot is not being said. I want you to notice when your child is looking out the window with glazed eyes and ask yourself, have they been so bowled over by the frenzy to be blissful that they're panicked something is wrong with them because they're feeling drained and dissatisfied?

Holidays are hard for kids, too. Maybe harder. They don't know that it's a bunch of bunk to have the brightest bow, the best new bike, and the most creative holiday plans to go skiing, help the homeless, and batik your own Holiday Cards. They see the commercials and holiday marketing, too. So, create a magical holiday for them by making the spinach dip, stringing up lights, AND talking to them about how icky it was that Mommy and Daddy yelled at each other in the grocery store over what size Pannetone cake to get for the new 4th grade science teacher.  

It won't take away from the magic-  being honest and present is the magic. It will make the holidays cleaner, clearer, and better connected. Looking at the bad doesn't negate the good. You'll emerge partners in knowing that you'll be there for them in whatever confusing illusion is wrapping everyone else up in stress and sparkly sweaters. They'll know you see them… and nothing feels better at any time of the year.

*This post was written by Womencare Staff Member Jennifer Cutilletta, LCSW


  1. You hit the nail on the head!!! I so appreciate this article. Thank you for some good advice in the midst of the holiday craziness.

  2. Such important advice for such a stressful time of the year! Thanks! I'll pass it along!