Article by Cassandra Johnson

A good friend of mine posted a photo of a Christmas tree laying on the curb on December 26th. His caption read, “The Morning After. Kicked to the Curb.” This post generated a slew of responses from cheers to tears. Other social media friends provided some holiday tree recycling tips to assist with feeding the birds and plant coverage. However, the emotional responses came from those that could resonate with either being the one cast aside or judged during the holiday season.

We are surrounded with holly jolly messages, joyous songs, sweet treats and pretty packages yet so many of us feel hollow, lonely or empty. The endless opportunity for social and family gatherings can be nothing more than a reminder of how quickly someone wants to throw us out into the cold after Santa has left the building. Expectations of you are heightened; you are expected to be at every event with a smile and presents in tow. Traditions are traditions so the loss of flexibility is in abundance. Suggestions to do something different can make the curb come even faster.

Growing up, holidays were a time with family tradition. I remember making lefse and putting out cookies with a note to Santa. I loved lighting the candles during “Silent Night” at the church service or driving around to see all the beautiful lights. However, it was always a time where my parents fought the hardest. My sister and I would find refuge in each other while they threw accusations of spending too much money, not
spending equal time with each family, not putting the tree up just right, etc. It didn’t matter the topic there was a fight about it. I grew to dislike the holiday season and expressed anger whenever I could. I thought I did my best to help my sister find joy in it while growing up, but I know to this day, she would much rather spend the days alone at home with her husband. I miss her when we are apart yet I do understand.

It wasn’t until I moved away to college that I learned about finding joy during the holidays. I discovered that not everyone fought or scowled about tradition. I could wrap myself up in all the lights, sappy movies, sugary foods and jolly reads and truly enjoy them. I am now the person that has almost 20 Christmas trees of all sizes in my apartment, watches the Hallmark channel constantly and listens to Christmas music the day after Halloween. I decided to choose gratitude over anger.

I do struggle with balancing the quest for perfectionism around the holidays, but focusing on what I am truly grateful for has helped me not feel like that tree cast aside on the curb. I wish the pressure and judgement would not be an agenda item for ourselves or family/friend circle during this special time; it does nothing for the true spirit of the season. As a future Equine Gestalt Coach, I will be focusing on helping people move past the perfection quest to true gratitude around any holiday. The only thing I would like to see cast to the curb is negativity and judgement.