When You Make Space For Sadness This Holiday Season, You Also Make Space For Joy

The other evening my husband and I decked our home for the holidays, a tradition I was not sure I wanted to participate in this year. Was it worth the work? Would the glitter and lights brighten my days with joy and peace, or would it feed my melancholy?

Soon into the unwrapping and decorating, I discovered it was worth the “work.”

With the unpacking and unveiling of each classic snowman and vintage ornament, scenes of years past inundated my heart, landing gently like snowflakes. As I adorned our small, faux tree, singing along to the words of Bing Crosby’s Silver Bells (a classic introduced by my mom), water saturated behind my eyes. I paused, holding a timeless circa 1980s ornament. One by one, as gentle as could be, teardrops landed warmly on my checks. Each bead was an honoring and remembrance of the joys and sorrows of Christmas pasts.

I am now creating and collaborating old and new traditions and memories with my husband. Practicing recalling memories in a way that uplifts and delights the present moment—dancing to heartfelt songs with Jax (our cat) sandwiched between us and sharing stories of holiday cheer as we recall the sweetness and innocence of our childhood.

The charm of each jolly snowman, sacred old-fashioned ornament, and delicacy of the tiny twinkly lights cultivate a sense of tranquility, stillness, and silence—a deep and subtle sense of peace and the makings of celebration and joy. But as I have also become accustomed to, those precious keepsakes continue to gather and bring up familiar emotions of nostalgia—a theme and pattern of looking back, a remembrance of that which is no longer.

Once resistant, they are now welcome and find their place in my heart, cheek, and tree as if belonging to their tradition. As if belonging to me. This holiday season and beyond, I aspire to practice relating to the preciousness of memories vs. remembering them as they are no longer.

If we allow them to, memories will arise, move through, and move on. It is a practice of pausing and allowing vs. rushing through and suppressing. When we make space for sadness, we also make space for the possibility of joy and peace. With each release, we begin to let go and heal. 

The holiday season is not cookie cutter. We all have our unique memories, experiences, and ways of relating. It is okay to feel happiness, peace, and sorrow; one is not better or worse than the other.

May you remember to allow for gentleness with your emotions this season and always.