NEW CASTLE —
While many of us have family, friends and traditions we are looking forward to, this time of year can be difficult for those in a transition from change or loss.
A friend of mine shared that she misses the entire ritual of making pies. Not just one or two pies, but making many pies in many varieties. This was a family ritual of bonding that she loved about her own family. She shared the same connection with her stepchildren when they were growing up.
We all know that time marches on — and can bring change. That doesn’t always make it easy to accept. Now that the kids are grown, they have committed to their own traditions. This is causing her to feel blue this Christmas.
The holidays can bring up feelings of grief and despair, which are a natural response to dealing with change. Even if the change is an organic part of life, such as when children grow up and move out of the area, it can leave parents, friends and family members emotionally struggling.
The loss of a loved one due to death is also challenging during special times of tradition.
Gratitude can be a key focus to remedy a sense of loss, loneliness and longing. If you have good memories of happy times when the house was bustling with people or memories of times shared with your loved ones, the practice of gratitude can keep your heart open.
Reflect on the goodness of the times you’ve shared. This choice can fill empty places and move you to contribute and connect in new ways.
It is important to communicate to those around you about your need to connect. Verbalizing that you would like to make a special holiday dish that was your loved one’s or a family favorite, for example, will allow others to support you. This is a kindness to yourself, and also allows others to be kind.
Volunteering is another way to combat the blues. Contributing and making a difference where help is needed gives a sense of purpose. It doesn’t change what you miss most. However, gifting your time to the support of others can be very uplifting and fulfilling.
Making new holiday plans with others may spark a new tradition, or become a bridge from what you’ve created in the past to what will develop into your future tradition. Be willing to travel, if you get the offer to do so. Change can become an adventure if you are willing.
If times have changed and your traditions aren’t in full swing, downsize to one or two practices that you really enjoy to treat yourself to some holiday cheer, including others when appropriate.
Inviting others to dinner, or other forms of entertaining, can also start a new holiday dynamic that bring new blessings. Many people have holiday dinners or intimate parties before and after “the main event” making this time of yeara “season of festivities.” So include your own special touch.
Verbal or written invitations make no difference — it is the special spin you will bring to the holiday cheer that will get you out of the blue funk. It’s not too late to plan, so get going.
With technology you can make long-distance communication a possibility. Skype and Facebook are a way to stay connected to loved ones out of town if you have a computer. Skype is free, and requires a camera attachment, so you can see and talk to the person you are connecting with live. If you have the money, let the computer geeks get it set up for you.
Also, cell phones now have cameras for pictures, Instagrams and video that you can forward and receive. It may take a little courage, but connecting through the technology and social media can keep you in the holiday loop.
Above all, honor your feelings. Change is a toughie around the holidays. Brighten your outlook by taking baby steps forward.
Make new traditions something you intend.
Low-Fat Gingerbread Men
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 egg (or equivalent egg substitute)
- 1/3 cup dark molasses
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and applesauce until smooth. Add egg and molasses and mix well. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and spices. Add to sugar and molasses mixture, stirring well. Divide dough in two; cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/4 or 1/8-inch thickness. Cut gingerbread men with a cookie cutter. Add candies or raisins to decorate. Place 1-2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Add frosting or more decorations when cool. Makes 30 cookies.