Holiday Trauma

I'm normally not the most festive when it comes to holidays and that's because of my childhood and how materialistic Christmas was and still is to this day. Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, my mom still put up a tree and lights for the environment to feel and look festive. In our household, Christmas was 365 days a year. I don’t know if it’s because I spent Christmases at my dad’s house, but this is where I remember seeing gifts under the tree and opening opening gifts. And I feel this is probably where my unfestive emotions started & grew. 

My stepmother made sure to have a few gifts under the tree for me to unwrap, so I wouldn’t be excluded from the others, but the quality of those gifts were subpar. Watching others open their gifts and comparing what I received, I felt the difference. I recall feeling as though I would have rather not gotten anything, but then who knows what type of lasting effect that would have had on me.

The real Grinch movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is true and dear to my heart. I genuinely feel like the Grinch.  The way we’re so obsessive with the material things & give that so much weight and volume  as a way of showing we care or how much we love is heartbreaking. Having nieces, in the past I’ve put on a face to pretend to happy and I once was genuinely happy & excited buying for them until getting my feelings hurt. Yes! My feelings were hurt by children. Them not liking the shoes I bought or even showing appreciation.

My trauma with Christmas went from it being material focused to not feeling the appreciation for the gift. It’s funny because earlier I mentioned the subpar quality of the gifts I received at my dad’s house and this feels like a full circle moment. Reflecting back, I feel like I appreciated the thought, but did not necessarily love the gifts. I really hope that I did not come off with any type of attitude or body language that would have read as unappreciative. Because feeling how I feel now about my nieces it definitely does not feel good.

But I’m a firm believer in adapting to protect my peace. So after the first time, I got my feelings hurt about the shoes, I told my sister-in-law, I would never buy them another pair of shoes. And I have not! I give their parents money for shoes. Before I would buy each child, three pair of shoes, no matter the cost, but now they get a budget and whatever they can get out of that budget. It is what it is. I also started asking their parents what is it the kids NEED and I focus on that. Lastly, I ask the girls to tell me 3-4 things they would like so that I can choice 1-2 things from their list to buy.

I refuse to let stress myself out about something I can control. There is only so much that I can do not living in the same city or state as my nieces. My oldest niece has more of appreciation for things because she has seen people who have nothing. With my mom’s church on Christmas Day, we would go out to the homeless camps and give away food and toiletries. For my younger nieces, the only thing I can do is converse with them about how fortunate they are, explain things could be different and how it is different for some people. I tell my nieces all the time the type of shoes that they want & the things that they are able to do, my brother and I were not able to do and have those things.

Instead of me dampening the mood or bringing others down, I try to focus on what I can control and adapt my behaviors to manage my stress level and peace around triggers. Don’t try to force your experiences or expectations of how someone should act or react towards and on anything! We are all different individuals, have different personalities,  and have CHOICE to do what brings us joy and happiness.

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