The holiday season can be fraught with anxiety (even calling it the holiday season can raise hackles). I personally prefer to wish my friends “happy holidays,” in part because my family will celebrate four major holidays between now and 2019 – Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Day (five if you count New Year’s Eve). But for many of those dear to me, “Merry Christmas” is more meaningful. I try to remember that, too. I don’t always succeed.
We know these holidays are born of joy and hope and thankfulness, but sometimes our psyches don’t match those states of being. The holidays are a time to see family we dearly miss, but it’s also time when we long to be with those we’ve lost. Relationships with those here with us can be complicated, too. The next six weeks bring with them heightened emotions and expectations — moments of delight and periods of yearning — marked by overspending, overeating, and overcommitting. As we move into and through this season of family suppers and other time together, I wish for all of my fellow Middle Georgians:
Loved ones — family by birth or by choice — to share the time with.
A warm place to share holiday meals — and may the unreasonable cold up north be mitigated by warm feelings and warm food. We Southerners will think of you as we pick out which T-shirt best matches our best eatin’ pants.
Alternative topics if the conversations get too heated. Note: Even talking about the weather can get fraught if it leads to climate change debates. Instead, try these topics that will never ever lead to an argument: (just kidding — we’re all on our own here).
Comfort food, whether laden with gluten or free of all animal products. (You, after all, get to choose your own comforts.)
To feel ease and serenity, with the gift of making others feel loved and welcomed.
That your gifts and meal contributions aren’t taken for granted and that at least one person tries that dish you brought to share.
Some sort of bonding game — whether board or sports — to smooth over/enhance that controversy that didn’t come out fully over supper.
If someone you love — or, say, gave birth to — tells you that you’ve “ruined everything” because you asked them to do a chore/errand/favor, that you will respond with the love and poise that often eludes me in those circumstances.
Grace and fortitude and humor enough to navigate, if you must, holiday guests not of your choosing or schedules that mean you have less time than you’d like with the ones you love most.
Space to breathe and reflect. Time outs work for overwrought adults as well as tired toddlers.
To feel the presence of loved ones lost or far away.
To remember our manifold blessings, the gift of second chances (with relationships or with the sweet potato souffle), and the wonder of being alive in the world.
To share our gifts with others in meaningful ways — whether through our time, our talents, our bank account, or all of the above.
Correction: The column published Nov. 11 incorrectly stated that Georgia felons permanently lose their right to vote. While felons in Georgia are automatically removed from the voter rolls upon their conviction, they may, after service of their entire sentence (including time in prison, on probation or parole, and payment of court-ordered fines or restitution), re-register to vote.
Sarah Gerwig is a law professor and word enthusiast raising her two sons in Macon.