Holiday Roller Coaster, How to Make it STOP

Holiday Roller Coaster

Well, it is that time of year again. Stress levels rise as gift list lengthen. Holiday times makes thoughts turn to navigating busy schedules and obligations. Families get together and bring with them years of collected baggage. Who sits where and who gets gifts and why do we have to go there again? A time of year that is supposed to be one of joy and relaxation so often turns into just the reverse.

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is such a season of stress and strain that I am sure that some clinical diagnosis has been assigned to it. It is often greeted in many families with a combination of fear and excitement; apprehension and anticipation.

Between Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanza; it is quite possible to get a real case of holiday over-stimulation. We bring so much to those family gatherings; hopes and dreams, our pasts and our own stories. Often, people come still holding on to past issues, hurts and feelings that stand in the way of the feelings of celebration and joy that should mark these weeks. It is hard to be celebratory if you are bound by hurt and resentment. “The need to hold on to a particular object or possession—often something trivial and insignificant—ends up making us prisoners of that need”

Here is a thought. These family gatherings are wonderful moments of possibility. They can provide a chance for people to unburden themselves within a caring and supportive, we hope, network. Why not carve out a few moments in these celebrations to share some of those stories.

Often there are multi-generations represented at these family gatherings. What a wonderful opportunity to have some of these people tell their story, to share their life lessons with other family members. No doubt, someone will say that they never knew that about this uncle or aunt, mom or dad, brother or sister. Telling those stories can also aid in unburdening someone from issues that they may have been carrying for years. Telling those stories can also help create relationships between the generations.

Why not invite one or two members of your family to share their life lessons. It may, I feel, open the door to types of conversations that may not be routine. After all, when all else is stripped away, it is the relationships we have with our family that are often the long lasting and influential.

There may evolve out of those conversations a renewed sense of gratitude and blessing for this family and these people. These conversations may also help to mend fences and long held disagreements. All of us know how disruptive and hurtful family issues can be. People seem to hold on to these hurts for years. Perhaps the ability to share in someone’s life journey can help put one’s own issues into a better perspective, a perspective that may remind someone that life is very short and grudges and animosity eventually help corrupt the person who holds those grudges.

This season is one that we hope brings joy and peace and a sense of fulfillment. We remember those loved ones no longer present physically and in that remembering we can, perhaps, find a way to celebrate life by hearing these stories of the living. Think about it. You never know!

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About Richard Address

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min is the founder and editor of He is the author of “Seekers of Meaning: Baby Boomers, Judaism and the Pursuit of Healthy Aging”. Rabbi Address developed the programs in family issues for the North American Reform Jewish movement and currently serves as a rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, N.J. He hosts the weekly “Boomer Generation Radio” in Philadelphia

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