Holiday Reflections

By Nanci Schiman

I’m not sure if my friends have figured it out, but my holiday communications provide a fairly accurate clue as to what the past 12 months have been like for me and my immediate family. I refer to these as Options 1 – 4 (with occasional variations, upgrades or recalls).

Option 1: Holiday card with a seasonal photo of my daughters (smiling and together) and a handwritten note or personalized letter = a good or even great year (where ‘normal’ is our epitome of ‘great’).

Option 2: Holiday card made up of a collage of photos from throughout the year = the year may have had some ups along with the downs but the downs are clearly winning in the last months of the year (seasonal depression/mood swings?).

Option 3: Holiday card with a few photos, mainly of the pets = there wasn’t much worth photographing or remembering over the past year and certainly not worthy of sharing. The inner circle of friends and family are familiar with the radio silence that’s been building since January (or longer).

Option 4: No card, no letter, no email or ecard = December?? Holidays?? Could someone please throw us a lifeboat?!

This year, after an ‘Option 4’ 2014, I cheerfully went for option 1 with a slight sprinkling of option 2 (only because my daughters are located in 3 different states, preventing an otherwise cheerful group photo). The cards are almost done (way ahead of my usual schedule) and my heart is filled with gratitude and appreciation as I reflect on treasured memories. Yet I just can’t find a way to transfer these emotions and moments into written words. In all honesty, I’m not sure that I even WANT to share any of the past year. I’m not sure that I even CAN share my version of 2015.

Why the reluctance and writers block? Perhaps because of the many prior years of options 3 and 4. An option 1 year is truly something to be cherished, nurtured and savored. Unless you’re intimately familiar with the behind the scenes activities of those seemingly silent years, an option 1 year could easily be mistaken for a very bland, boring, unremarkable year.

In reality, it is BECAUSE of the really difficult, unimaginably painful times that the good times feel heavenly. The words that come to mind are healing . . . forgiveness . . . appreciation . . . living . . . recovery . . . growth . . . strength . . . acceptance . . . love.

I cannot convey the deeply profound meaning of these words simply by recounting milestones, vacations, career changes, graduations, births, deaths, marriages or divorces. Nor can I, or will I, lay out the many earlier years of heartache and struggle as a frame of reference. I don’t want to dredge up those memories and risk tarnishing the good times of now. I want to stay in the moment and soak it all in. There are no guarantees, we are all fully aware that any of these options could take the stage front and center at any time. That is all the more reason to just cherish how far we’ve come, as individuals and as a family.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I’m going to need to put some extra postage on this year’s cards. But for this blog, with this remarkable, understanding and insightful group of readers, there is no need for pictures or an abundance of words. I’m pretty sure that you understood from the very first sentence. Wishing everyone a truly peaceful New Year.

One response to “Holiday Reflections”

  1. Jessica says:

    Hello Bring Change 2 Mind I am a person who has been given a stigmatizing label that has hurt me the system does not understand who I am as a person this has been a very difficult time for me I have vast disabilities I am a vulnerable adult with disabilities I would like the system to change for me . Maybe you can help me to have the system change for me and support my needs and help me to amend the stigmatizing label that has been put on me so I can have a better future and get my college education and some other needs met it has been really rough for me . I prefer not to tell you what the label is but it is a mental health label that has really hurt me it is not who I am as a person it has hurt me so very hard . We need a lot of change in the system I am not getting my needs met it is really difficult for me . Keep up the good work Jessica

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