Tis' The Season To Be Jolly - Happiness is all about your state of mind.
Greetings to all. Before I begin tonight's topic, there will be no blog posts on December 26th and January 2nd this year due to the holidays.
Moving on. Yes, it's the holiday season. Therefore, it is only fitting to write a holiday post. The question in my mind was, what to write? I certainly do not like to follow the crowd and write the traditional Christmas message that you can read on any blog. Rather, I decided to write about your state of mind, why, and how it affects your holiday. I write this with the hopes that if anyone is suffering or has suffered from the holiday blues, this will help. So let's start with a short true story.
MY HOLIDAY EXPERIENCES:
Of course, everyone is different. However for me, Christmas is my favorite holiday. To be more specific, Christmas Eve. Growing up, no matter how hectic everyone's lives were, it was all put aside on Christmas Eve. It was the one holiday, the one night when the entire family was together. Actually, it worked out perfectly for two generations. Why is that?
To simplify it, it was a double holiday. Christmas Eve and Christmas day. This became important as my sister, and I met our significant others and got married, we had to split time between two families. Ours and our spouses. Therefore, we decided that Christmas Eve would be spent with one family and Christmas day with the other. Wow. That saved a great deal of time by not having to run around on a single holiday such as Easter to see both families. Especially when we started having children.
Between when I was growing up, got married, and had my children, it was awesome. The excitement of Christmas engulfed every part of me. I could not wait for it to arrive each and every year. We all know as time passes, things change. We lost my mom, then years later, my dad. The children were now all grown and living their lives. The normal cycle of life. As they started to date, they did as we did. Split the holiday. Then it happened.
Two of my three children moved out of state. As this true story goes, it still worked for a short few years until they had children. Naturally, as their children became older, they wanted to be at their house for Christmas for fear that Santa would not know where to bring their presents. Therefore, they started to stay where they moved and were living. It was the correct choice to make. I totally supported that. The truth is, it broke the meaning of Christmas for me.
The tradition of the entire family being together that one night of the year. Of course, I could split my time and fly to one place one year and stay home the next. However, it wasn't the same. With that said, as a parent, I raised my children to do what was best for their lives and not worry about mine. Let's face it, they will be around long after I'm gone.
As the story goes, Christmas lost its entire meaning for me. I didn't decorate my home and went as far as not putting up a tree. To me, Christmas became another day of the week. IT got so bad that it would irritate me to see decorations up as early as Halloween and Christmas music being played in November. That was my STATE OF MIND. However, thank God, that changed. The question is, what changed it?
Since we did Christmas Eve together, when my children were grown, I worked Christmas day at the firehouse for guys with young children at home so they could spend Christmas with their little ones. Therefore, there came a time when working Christmas day was normal for me. That's the price you pay when you serve the public. At the time, we had a shift rotation of three days on, three days off, then three nights on, and three days off. With that type of rotation, you went about three-and-half years of working most holidays, then you were off most holidays for three-and-a-half years. However, I always managed to have Christmas Eve off by swapping with other firefighters for Christmas Day.
Keep in mind that I had reached a point where Christmas was no longer enjoyable for me. The truth is, I dreaded it. I couldn't wait for it to go by.
Earlier I stated that changed. All things in life change. Sometimes for the good, and other times maybe not so good. However, this one Christmas day, I was working. We received a call from someone who wanted to commit suicide. That call changed my life and outlook on Christmas. It was an individual who had no children and whose wife passed away a few years ago. That person had been alone for EVERY holiday for some time. It got to a point for that person where they no longer wanted to live. Of course, we provided the care they needed, but it was sad to think that now that person would spend Christmas day in a hospital with shrinks asking a million questions to determine if it was safe to release them.
I thought to myself how lucky I was. Even though the family was not altogether on that one night of the year, everyone was happy and living their lives. The progression of life was taking place. I thought to myself that I could either become a part of it or be left behind. Who knows, maybe one day I might be this person. That was my wake-up call.
STATE OF MIND:
After all the pain and sorrow I had seen as a firefighter and paramedic, I wondered how I dealt with it so it wouldn't drive me crazy or to a point of depression. Most people don't realize that for those who serve the public, divorce rates and suicide rates are higher than in most other professions.
There I was, after thinking about this for days, how could I deal with so much one way and not one thing the other way? First off, my issue was more personal to me. That was my first conclusion. Anything that is personal to an individual, the impact will be felt much deeper. I could control my emotions about my work-related experiences because I accepted that life goes on, and sadness and tragedy are a part of that process. As is happiness. It's about your STATE OF MIND. How you look at things and perceive them. Therefore, you have a different STATE OF MIND ABOUT it.
From that moment on, the meaning of Christmas came back to me. I accepted that Christmas did not go away, only how I celebrated it changed. We must understand that our state of mind controls our attitude about things, how we deal with them, and how things will affect us. So after four years of being a scrooge about Christmas, I change my state of mind regarding Christmas and became thankful for the new way, as a family, we would celebrate it.
You see, Christmas was always Christmas. What it stands for and its meaning never changed. It was my state of mind that changed. Just like every day of the week, each week is the same. A Monday is always a Monday, and so on. Your state of mind makes it a good or bad Monday, or any other day of the week for that matter.
Therefore, it is your choice to be happy or sad. It is your choice to embrace or not embrace change. It is your choice to change your state of mind. If I can do it, you can. I wasted four years of wonderful holiday that I enjoyed. Years I can never get back. I share this story with you with the hopes that if you are in this situation, about to enter this situation, you can control it by how you perceive it. Never look at the downside, look at how you can make it an upside.
What brings life to these characters? Your parents brought them to life for you when you were a child. You brought them to life for your children when they were young, and your children will continue to bring them to life when they have children. It will also be your job to give them life for your grandchildren. We all know they are not real. However, your mind, heart, faith, and love make them real, and as this passes from generation to generation, they will be real and live on forever.
Everything I have told you is true. It's my Christmas story that I'm sharing with each and every one of you with the hopes that if you are experiencing the same, it will help you. This true story ends with me making the choice to move to Florida. I now spend alternate holidays here in Florida and in my home state of Connecticut. I'm sure one year we will try to all be together on Christmas Eve again once my grandchildren are older. Until then, I thank God each and every day for my wake-up call, so I can once again enjoy the jolliness of the Christmas season. Each holiday we take a moment and Facetime with each other, so everyone gets to say hello. It's these little moments in our life that are so important.
These are moments that, if we let go, we can never get back again. The good news is you can control it. You can control your state of mind and learn to be thankful for what you have. Even if it is different from where you came from. For my family to yours, I would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy, and Merry Christmas along with a prosperous New Year.
In the meantime, always -
Live with an open mind,
Live with an open heart,
Live your best life.
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