The joy of anticipation

Summer holidays, fall break, winter break – birthdays, Christmas and New Year.

These are times and days we look forward to – or not.

Looking forward to something – to have expectations – anticipate something that gives us a break from everyday life, this is important.  When we look forward to summer vacation, fall break, winter break and other days off, it is because we get to do something that differs from what we do every day.  We get the opportunity to travel and experience different people and places.  We can do things together that we normally don’t have time to do.  We can put our clocks and watches and phones away, stay up all night, sleep all day or basically do just nothing.

Becoming a year older, and get to celebrate with friends, this is an event that most kids and teens look forward to a long time before the event.  Planning – what to serve, where to have the party, who to invite?  Important details for a maturing mind.  It has to be a success!

Christmas! We long for Christmas.  Christmas is family time.  Preparations are a part of the event.  Decorating the house, the garden, Christmas tree.  Shopping (what to get people this year?  What will make gran or sister happy?) and wrapping the presents.  Baking all kinds of treats, tasting, making a gingerbread house and gingerbread men – this is all a part of it.  The fact that most of the cookies are not eaten and left in the tins until Easter does not really matter.

Homemade Christmas decorations, produced by the children, you never get enough.  We welcome them every year.  These things gives us the feeling of Christmas, it builds expectations in the children and older kids.  Christmas songs from every speaker in every home.  When Christmas is finally here (all of a sudden it feels like for the housewives and husbands in every family) we are supposed to have a good time and enjoy ourselves.  We are supposed to play and laugh and be cheerful, enjoy our presents, eat lots of candy, goodies, good food and drink.

Next comes New Year’s Eve! A time to gather at the table with all our good friends, lots of food and drink yet again.  We are supposed to thank everybody for being there the past year and wish everybody a happy new one.  Maybe we promise to   be a better person, exercise more, eat more healthy.  Maybe we vow to be a better person, to take better care of our loved ones, or work a bit less this New Year.  With fireworks in every color decorating the dark winter sky and small explosions and bangs cheerfully pop all around we hug in a huge worldwide hug of friendship.  And we have high expectations.

Or?  Do we really?

Yes, a lot of us do.  But several do not.  When “everybody” is having a good time with all the joyful expectations, the pain and grief is even more present for those who do not look forward to holidays.

We have read and heard of the elderly who has to spend the holidays alone in their living room, lonely and sad because their children and grandchildren have so much going on in their own life.  We have heard of alcoholics and drug addicts who dread being reminded of the bad turn their life took.  We have heard of those who don’t have the money to take their kids on vacation.  They can’t afford to travel anywhere not east or west or up or down or round about.  We have heard of those who don’t have enough money to give their children the days to remember, the Christmas presents or birthday presents or even whatever is thought to be needed to celebrate.

Several people suffer during those special days.

And then there are those like my son.  There are several people like him too.  He needs a break, a break from doing nothing!  He needs something to live for, experiences that create good memories.  Not necessarily the big events, but the little events.  He wants to celebrate his birthday and to be the center of everyone’s attention that single day.  He wants to prepare for Christmas, bake and go shopping.  He wants to celebrate New Year’s eve with all his friends, like he used to.  What now?

What happens when special days becomes something you have to generate all your strength available, and then some, to be a part of? Just to realize that the task was too big and you have to pay back for a long time afterwards?  What when holidays are events you cannot plan but has to do on the fly because this disease is so unpredictable?  When somebody just has to seize the opportunity and be ready at the right moment?  When celebrating one’s birthday is a vague memory of the past?  When every year added is nothing but a reminder that the years pass by?  What when Christmas Eve is a night you have to decide to be able to attend?  And New Year’s Eve is a night that remind you of what used to be? When you hide in bed praying for the fireworks to end because it hurts?  What then?

When these big events become something to dread, the little things become even more important!  To create a bit of joy in the little things – even the little things in the middle of the big things – can be just what is needed.  To show love and affection, to laugh, hug and celebrate everyday life can be what is needed to make the big events a little bit brighter.

Let’s bring out the joy of the little things!

By HR

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