We are headed into the holidays and it’s time for rejoicing. Except for those of us who dread the holidays. For many people Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years are very difficult. A time when they are lonely and feel neglected, a time that reminds them of a difficult childhood, a time when everyone else seems happy but them. I am writing this for any of you who find the holidays difficult. Don’t worry. You are not alone.
If you don’t believe this then ask your shrink. Or someone else’s shrink if you don’t have one. They will tell you that the holidays are their busiest time of the year. Here are some helpful hints for handling the holiday blues.
First, try to avoid stress and depression especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
Acknowledge your feelings. If you have had a recent loss or you can’t be with people you love, then it’s normal to feel sadness. Take time out to cry and express your feelings. Don’t try to force yourself to be happy. It won’t work.
Find outside resources. Go to community, religious or other social events. You will find support and companionship. Volunteer your time to help others as this will give you pleasure and will help you develop new friendships.
Accept change. Holidays change with time. Traditions and rituals evolve. If your adult children can’t come to your house then celebrate together in other ways, like sharing pictures, emails or videos.
Accept family members and friends as they are. They will never live up to all of your expectations. Forget all the grievances for a while, maybe permanently. Be understanding when other people get upset when things go wrong. They may also have holiday stress and depression.
Set a budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
Set a schedule. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Write down your schedule and stick with it as best you can.
Protect yourself. Don’t overcommit. Say no to requests when you are uncomfortable or unwilling.
Stay with healthy habits. Don’t eat or drink too much or abandon your exercise. Overindulgence only makes you feel worse. Snack a little before holiday parties so that you overindulge on sweets, cheese or drinks. Get a lot of sleep. Get exercise each day.
Take time out. Just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, could refresh you enough to handle everything. Clear your mind, slow your breathing and restore inner calm. You could take a walk at night, listen to soothing music. Get a massage or read a book.
Get professional help if things get out of hand. If you feel persistently sad or anxious, have serious physical complaints, unable to sleep, feel irritable and hopeless, and find yourself unable to face routine chores for a period of time, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Take control of the holidays
The holidays don’t have to be something you dread. You can take steps to prevent stress and depression that can come to you during the holidays. Recognize your holiday triggers, like financial pressures or relationship demands, so you can take care of them before a meltdown. Follow the suggestions you have just read and you will be able to find peace and joy during the holidays.
He showed up on Halloween, the last of our trick or treat visitors for the night. At least that’s what we thought when we heard the scratching at the door. But it wasn’t a tot. It was the toughest, roughest tomcat we had ever seen, huge and mean and downright unpleasant. He didn’t ask to come in. He just walked in as if he owned the place. That’s when we made our mistake. We fed him. “What a cute kitty”, said Margo. Was she wrong.
We named him Toughie. We had wanted a pet for a long time. But Toughie certainly wasn’t our pet, or anyone’s pet. He was strictly a loner. He stayed with us two days and then vanished. During that two days we developed a mutual affection. I learned to pet him and even spar with him, which he loved. After a few painful and bloody lessons I learned to put on a thick coat and heavy leather work gloves during our sparring sessions. He was one ferocious animal. He was scary even when he was being good. He was a monster when enraged.
Toughie was also the clumsiest cat I have ever known. A complete disappointment to anyone who thinks that cats are naturally graceful. When he jumped down from the back of a chair the whole house shook. He would walk along a shelf knocking off memorabilia as he progressed. We learned to clear all the shelves when he was visiting. But we always welcomed his visits.
After that first two day honeymoon we didn’t see Toughie for a while. Then he came back, covered with new scars. It was wise to keep away from his scars in our sparring sessions. He would go for my face when suitably annoyed.
But we loved him. More than that, I developed some kind of weird spiritual connection with Toughie. He would come to me in my dreams. We would be fellow alley-cats, prowling the local alleys and backyards in search of food, sex and trouble. We found a lot of every one. These were very unusual dreams. I found out what it was like to be a wild animal, aggressive and totally amoral. A hunter of mice, rats, other cats, small dogs, birds, whatever. I tasted the blood of the prey, felt the excitement of the hunt and the kill. I can feel the pounding excitement right now as I tell you about all of this. These new tastes and habits started to affect my waking life. I became much more aggressive at work, got a promotion. More aggressive in my marriage with a lot more fighting. Margo was not pleased.
I really missed Toughie when he was gone. Whenever he came back I became alive. We had become close friends, both in our sparring sessions and in our shared dreams. I loved him truly. He was the brother I had never had.
Toughie visited us three or four times. And then he disappeared for good. He was gone. I found myself prowling the local alleys and back yards looking for him. I even put up “cat missing” posters. No response. Even my dreams of Toughie stopped. I grieved for him.
And then, one night, there he was in the most realistic dream I have ever had. I could see everything in fine detail, smell the smells, hear the sounds, and feel the thrill of the hunt as we coursed through the neighborhood together. Then the sharp crack of a .22 and Toughie’s scream as he fell to the ground dead. I woke up sobbing, filled with grief. Margo asked me what had happened. I told her. She told me to stop being an idiot.
Early the next morning I woke up to a scratching at our door. A soft scratching, but unmistakable. I opened the door despite being terrified. I had to know. There was nothing there. Well maybe something, but so fast and so blurry that it seemed like my imagination.
The next night we were awakened by the crash of knickknacks falling off our mantel. We figured that there had been a small earthquake. Not true. No explanation.
Then the dreams came back. Not all the time, just occasionally, like Toughie’s visits. We would go prowling together and I would taste blood and thrill to the chase. We actually talked with other, not quite in spoken language but clear enough to exchange thoughts and concepts. Enough to know that Toughie has a mission. He wants to teach many people what it’s like to hunt, to taste the prey’s blood, to feel the excitement of the night prowl and the nocturnal adventures of the alley-cat. So be in touch with your dreams tonight, and listen carefully for the faint scratching at your front door.
Halloween becomes a bigger event in Los Angles every year. To many, it’s an unofficial holiday of costumes, ghouls and parties. More are leaving work early, enjoying their Halloween party, celebrating half the night and then coming into work late the next day.
What is it’s magical allure that so many folks want to celebrate at Halloween? Scaring themselves silly at a Haunted House? Wearing the spooky costumes? The Halloween parties? The memory of childhood? A chance to throw off inhibitions and to become someone else for the night? … Or, be somewhere else in some magical never-never land?
Difficulty Level Low – Cooking Time 25 m – Cost Medium (serves 4 people)
Ingredients: yellow peaches 4 – caster sugar4 tbsp. – dry white wine500 ml – minta handful, fresh – vanilla ice cream 4 large scoops
Preparation Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute, then skin, stone and slice them thickly. Put the peach slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Mix together then cover them with the white wine. Add the mint and put in the fridge for 1 hour so the flavours have time to develop. Remove the peaches from the fridge and drain. Arrange the fruit in 4 individual serving bowls, cover with ice cream and drizzle over any remaining wine to serve.