November began this year with weather fitting for the month – our night turned cold last night, and we were greeted with snow today. As I watched the dark clouds move in, and saw the tiny flakes begin to float down, I shivered and reached for a sweater.
November can make us shiver for other reasons, too. Just thinking about the holidays can be overwhelming if you’ve lost a loved one and hate the thought of going through the next two months without them.
What can you do? What options do you have besides barricading yourself inside your home and taking the phone off the hook?
There are things you can do to make the holidays less of a time to be dreaded and more of a time to appreciate.
I’ll be posting more ideas throughout the month, but for starters, I want to share something that’s been a tradition in my home for years, and that has helped me maintain a happier frame of mind especially since my husband died.
When our seven children were small, we would hang a piece of poster board on the kitchen door on November 1st, and place a basket of crayons on the floor beside it. At the top I would write: “I’m grateful for . . .” and then we invited the children to draw or write on the poster the things they were thankful for. It was always fun to see the poster fill up as November progressed, and to see, in addition to things like “my doll”, “my cowboy hat” and others, the occasional entry that would tug at my heart: “my little brother”, or “my mom”. It was interesting to see that they sometimes even realized that “a warm bed” was something they could offer thanks for.
Having grieved through many holidays, I have found that this one thing, gratitude, has had the greatest effect on my ability to face the holidays with courage and confidence. So I invite you, in some way, to start your own “I’m grateful for” list, and add to it each day. In my experience, the more gratitude I express, and the more blessings I acknowledge, the happier I am.
May you find it so, too!