Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
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December 12, 2022
By Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
The holidays bring up a variety of emotions for many of us.
I’ve heard before that the holiday season has a way of accentuating what one might already be feeling.
For me, I typically feel a combination of a lot of different things during this season.
My holidays as an adult don’t look like they did as a child. A number of things have changed. We’ve welcomed new members to the family through birth or marriage. We’ve lost beloved extended family members over the years. My parents are no longer married. Some family relationships have deepened and become more precious and other relationships have become more strained.
There is a family picture from my childhood that I treasure – it’s this one below. My mom tells me I was scared to sit on Santa’s lap alone (cause, like, what 2-year-old wouldn’t be?!), so the whole family piled into the picture with me. I guess it’s true that there is strength in numbers!
I like pulling out this picture each holiday season because it helps me remember the dichotomy of long-term relationships — the way they ebb and flow and constrict and expand over many decades. I am always struck by the way old photographs can spark both happiness and sadness, gratitude and grief at the very same time.
Recently, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across this quote from Vienna Pharaon of @mindfulmft. Vienna said,
“Holiday Reminder: Prepare yourself for who you know your family to be, not who you hope they will be.”
I’m lucky in the sense that I have a close and loving relationship with most every member of my family — but there have been years in the past when that wasn’t the case. Times when my expectations were high, or my boundaries were low. Times when I spoke more than I listened, and times when I judged too harshly.
In recent years, I’ve found a lot of peace and contentment in embracing all the good that is already present in my family, rather than focusing my attention on what could have been. I truly believe that most of us do the best we can with the resources, upbringing, and genetic health and mental health makeup we’ve been given.
This holiday season, I’m practicing mindfulness around my expectations of others, and focusing instead on what is within my power – which is my own thoughts, feelings, outlook, and actions.
I’m curious how this lands with you today. If you have any thoughts or reflections you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.
Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
We’ll be with you every step of the way.