Before Dan and I knew it, we found ourselves smack in the middle of another holiday season. This year we spent Thanksgiving at the outer banks with friends. It was our first visit there and like most holidays we are always ready to spend it in a way that does not resemble holidays of the past. We visited the beach, Currituck Lighthouse, Bode Lighthouse and the Kitty Hawk monument. We also laughed and ate with friends, old and new.

I had one moment of intense longing, longing for a moment that can never exist, one with our family,

the four of us around that table sharing a Thanksgiving meal. The last time that took place was 16 years ago. In that moment, tears sprang to my eyes and I allowed the sadness to fill my heart, and held it there while I breathed and remembered. The moment passed, and I returned to this year’s gathering.

Holidays are difficult for many people.

Sometimes it is because we are missing a loved one and we are remembering Thanksgivings or Christmases of the past. Sometimes it is because our holiday celebrations did not measure up to our expectations, or they somehow fell short of our desires. We may go through the holidays in a haze of depression, closing ourselves off from what may seem like false cheer that permeates every where we go, from the mall to our place of employment.

How can we create an atmosphere that is comfortable for us?

Possibly even one in which we want to participate?

One way to do this is to ask ourselves some questions: How do we want to celebrate?
What traditions do we want to keep from our past? What are we ready to let go of?

What new activities or traditions will fill our soul today?

As you ask yourself these questions, allow yourself to feel into them. Perhaps you can write about them. Let your imagination go, and write from your heart.

Ask your inner child what she, or he wants, give them an experience they did not have as a child.

Be kind to yourself, you do not have to participate in any activities that do not feel authentic, makes you uncomfortable, or are too painful.

Find an activity that makes you feel inspired, nurtured or playful.

You may still find that your holidays contain difficult moments and memories. When you are caring for yourself in a way that makes you feel inspired and nourished you will have

a greater capacity to be with your difficult and uncomfortable feelings. You will move through them in a new way. You may even gain insights into your past that will help you to create an even better experience for yourself in the present.

As we begin to forge new traditions and create new memories that are in alignment with our authentic selves we begin to relax and enjoy the moments of our days that create our life. We begin to live the lives we are meant to live.