PENTICTON - Several residents braved a sudden snow squall Friday to discuss how to survive and thrive in the holiday season.
The title of the Penticton library’s “Learning Lunch” meeting was Preparing for the Holiday Season Without Losing Your Mind or Your Heart.
Librarian Karen Kellerman facilitated the discussion, which involved half a dozen Penticton residents who shared advice and experience about how they made it through tough Christmas seasons.
The discussion began with an acknowledgement that Christmas can be a difficult for many reasons, like the death of a loved one during the holiday season or early childhood loss of a parent which tainted the holiday season year after year.
Others recalled the family traditions of celebrating Christmas as a special time, but being personally disappointed because the family was too impoverished to have many gifts under the tree.
“I was back and forth about Christmas,” said one participant, “I used to weep every Christmas, but I began to work with myself. It took me five years to stop weeping, but I changed my expectations.”
Changing one’s expectations and “going with the flow” were two themes that appeared to dominate the discussion. One participant recalled a year when divorced and alone, she had to work through Christmas day.
“I went home to an empty apartment,” she said, “and had a cold chicken leg in front of the TV.” She told the group that it was a lonely Christmas, but “just accepted it” at the time.
“Sometimes you have to work, or things aren’t going to be the way you want them to be,” she said. “A big part of success is making a plan to deal with the circumstances in advance.”
Another group member admitted her view of Christmas had forever been scarred by the death of her mother on Christmas day, and the subsequent effects on the family. She described her childhood as one where her sister raised the family because her father had an alcohol problem, remembering the lack of even a Christmas tree until she was older.
It was noted by a member of the discussion who is single, that loneliness was perhaps a state of mind.
“You think you’re alone at Christmas, but you’re not. It’s what you want to do,” she said describing a Christmas where, rather than endure it alone, a number of singles in the city got together and went up to Silver Star Ski Resort for the holiday. They ended up having a memorable Christmas.
Christmas is not a competition said another participant, who added they reject the consumer ideology that comes with Christmas.
“If I’m going to spend money on someone, I’ll do it for someone who needs it... How much do we really need? It’s been said we spend two thirds of our lives collecting and the last third divesting.”
Statistics provided at the Learning Lunch showed a five per cent increase in divorces in January, and a 10 per cent increase in heart attacks around Christmas time. Statistics indicating that Canadian households would spend $1,800 just for Christmas, prompted the question, “What are we doing to ourselves?"
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