The holidays can sometimes feel less joyful than its songs and television specials. We may be expected to deliver breathtaking décor, delicious food, and numerous well-received presents for starters. It is no wonder that “holiday stress” is a renowned concept.
As I witness the seasonal fluster of people all around me, I cannot help but recall a memory that greatly impacted me. When I offered Art Therapy at an involuntary youth mental health centre, one session reminded me what the holidays are about.
Art Therapy with the youth was usually based on self-understanding, coping, and empowerment. However, as the holidays approached, my colleague and I could not ignore their longing for home. They missed their families. Many wished things had been different, so that they would not be here. Since the centre was still giving them needed care, we felt that nothing would be more helpful than having the youth reconnect with their loved ones.
Art does not always have to be an independent activity. Creating something from the heart and sharing it with another can be a truly moving experience. The youth were thrilled to create artwork for their families, and this helped their holidays feel whole. They did not need breathtaking décor, delicious food, or expensive things. Being away from home gave them new perspective: that having and receiving gratitude with those they love are unforgettable gifts. Gratitude reminds us what is important and helps us cherish it.
We can embrace gratitude by reaching out to others and being thankful for them. We can work on resolving differences, and appreciate their meaningful merits over minor faults. We can remember those who have passed, and embrace the lessons and virtues that they shared with us. We can also appreciate our own triumphs, and be kind to ourselves.
For my holidays, I will follow in the footsteps of my former clients. I will be grateful for those who have let me into their lives, and I will give them reasons to be grateful in return.
Even though life has its obstacles, there are always reasons to be grateful. If you would like help finding gratitude in your life, therapists such as myself can help.