Ahh, the holidays are here again. While joyous in many ways, holidays present intense emotional challenges, particularly when a loved one is no longer with us. The worst time is the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have survived Thanksgiving dinner, but now we face a build up–the endless preparations, anticipation and reminders of Holidays past–to a crescendo at Christmas. We think of whom we were with in years gone by and how happy we were then. How could we ever be that happy again? But, this can also be a time of great optimism. A new year is just around the corner and with the beginning of a new year, the possibility of greater things to come.
I recently ran across the following story:
A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist. Just to see what would happen, on Christmas day their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure. That night the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly. “Why are you crying?” the father asked. “Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken.” answered the pessimist twin. Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. “What are you so happy about?” he asked. To which his optimist twin replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”
This time of year, it is easy to become the pessimistic twin, to cry over things that we cannot control, over situations in which we find ourselves through no fault of our own, and to worry about what others will think of us. But does it help? Of course not!
Be the optimistic twin. There is a pony in the manure pile. Survive the end of this year and look ahead, not back. Reinvent yourself for the New Year and many new years to come.
To learn more about surviving difficult conditions that we face in life, please read my recently published book, The Freshly Single Man’s Guide to Household Survival.