When Christmas Feels Yucky: Surviving the Holiday Things You Can't Escape

Photo By Matt Grommes via http://public-domain.pictures/

The air is ringing with familiar Christmas carols. Trees and homes are hung with sparkling lights, plazas are filled with shoppers toting bags of gifts and toys, and there is talk of joy, Santa Claus and mistletoe.

Even though for numerous reasons I chose to opt out of celebrating Christmas myself, I can't escape it. A simple trip to the grocery store for a gallon of milk has become a journey through a magical kingdom of Poinsettias, Burl Ives, and candy canes.

And on December 25th, I will once again be painfully reminded of the silence of my phone.

The holidays bring up mixed feelings for many of us.

Maybe for you this will be your first Christmas alone after a divorce or the death of a loved one. Maybe you are being forced to spend time with a family member who sets your teeth on edge. Maybe you've been laid off and can't afford to buy gifts for your children, or you've simply become weary of the hype and consumerism and opted out.

Whatever the reason, chances are there are aspects of this time of year that you find that you must endure rather than celebrate.

So what do you do when Christmas feels yucky and you can't escape?

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm really into Eckhart Tolle these days. These words jumped out at me from Stillness Speaks:

You don't need to be a Christian to understand the deep universal truth that is contained in symbolic form in the image of the cross. The cross is a torture instrument. It stands for the most extreme suffering, limitation, and helplessness a human being can encounter. Then suddenly that human being suffers willingly, consciously, expressed through the words, “not my will, but thy will be done.” At that moment, the cross, the torture instrument shows its hidden face. 
It is also a sacred symbol, a symbol for the divine. That which seemed to deny the existence of any transcendental dimension to life, through surrender becomes an opening into that dimension.

Sometimes there are painful situations that, no matter how hard you try to surgically remove them from your experience, simply won't go away. The dreaded person is sitting in front of you. You have $25 in your bank account and no idea where your next $25 will come from. You miss the presence of the loved one you lost. Your phone is silent.

You can try praying about these things. You can try ignoring them, or drinking too much, or staying busy, or a hundred different things. But just like there was no way for Jesus to get down off that cross, there simply is no escape from these situations.

The only thing you can really do is acknowledge that it hurts like hell and sit there and feel the pain.

"Not my will, but thy will be done".

Surrender to the yuck. When you breathe in, feel yucky. When you breathe out, feel yucky. Feel it in your body. Feeling yucky isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's not really the end of anything. It just is. And you can bear it, even if it feels unbearable.

A woman in childbirth once cried, "I can't do this!" Her midwife responded, "You ARE doing it! You're doing it right now!"

When you completely surrender to the yuck, I think you'll find that there's an unexpected little pocket of space surrounding it.

In that pocket of space, there is peace.

This is the "peace that passes understanding".

Take that peace, and offer it to the world.

There is no greater Christmas gift.


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