For a lot of people going home for the holidays is exciting, and filled with nothing but cheer and good times.
However, for many of us, going home for the holidays, especially right now, is anything but easy and fun. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of those families that get together, and it’s just light, relaxing, and easy. It sounds incredible.
It’s just not that way for many of us, and this is why.
1. We know more.
We all hear from our parents that we’ll understand when we’re older, and the thing is they’re right.
We will understand more and more as we mature, but what so many parents have a hard time grasping, is that we’re adults now. Yes, we haven’t lived the same amount of technical years as them, but we have lived a lot of life up until this point. We’re more exposed to the world than they were. Many of us have higher levels of education than our parents, and we’ve seen some real shit on a global level already.
Add to the fact that many of us live in cities that are diverse; we’re connected with people from around the world; and we’re extremely mindful of whats going on in terms of big business and politics, and you can’t argue that we just know more than a lot of our parents did at our age, or currently do.
It’s a hard pill to swallow for them, and a very humbling experience to comprehend that our parents are just regular people too.
2. We’ve created our own set of morals and beliefs.
What makes this even harder is that as we mature, we often find that our parents don’t hold the same values and ideas as us.
We grew up with our parents setting the stage, guiding us through what we thought was right, wrong, and “normal.” We were essentially programed to follow our parents lead, and it makes sense, but as we grow into the people we want to be, we often find that our parents way of thinking, and doing things, doesn’t fully correlate to, or match our lifestyles.
Whether it’s our feelings when it comes to LGBT issues, women’s right, racism, or how we keep our home, and what we spend our money on, it’s mind-boggling how our parents, who we looked up to for so long, can feel like the most backwards thinking people.
It can make us feel crazy, and like we’re talking to a wall when it comes to things that aren’t light and fluffy. If you’re anything like me, it’s incredibly hard to just pretend like their isn’t a giant pink elephant in the room when it comes to important issues, and as hard as it is, we may just find that we don’t get along with certain family members.
When love is replaced with hate and contempt, going home isn't only beyond hard, it can be dangerous, and why we must start to reevaluate how we define the word family.
3. We want to help.
When we go to visit our families, we often see so many things that any sane human would declare unhealthy. The way they eat, fight, think, interact with one another, and the list goes on and on, but just because we see it, doesn’t mean they do. Our pure intentions to help them, and fix their broken system, can, and most likely will, come off as controlling and unhelpful.
This can be maddening, and drive the sanest person to feel insane. However, in order to preserve our own mental health, we must let the system continue to run as it is, until they’re ready to openly accept our help. This isn't easy, and can often leave us feeling depressed and helpless.
Through careful and subtle actions, we can inspire and help those family members, who may want to change. Remember even if it’s a small shift in how they operate, it’s still a step in the right direction.
It’s heartbreaking to watch things fall apart, but everyone must do things at their own pace, and learn from their own mistakes.
4. We realize some sad truths.
Maybe our childhood wasn’t as happy as we thought. Maybe we were lied to as a child. Maybe our parents thought they were keeping us safe, by keeping big issues out of our world. Maybe we realize that our parents aren't, who we thought they were at all, which is different than realizing our parents are people too. Whatever the case may be, we must take what we learn, process it, and move forwards.
It’s important to know our history, so we don’t make the same mistakes, but to harp on the past will keep us only in the past. Yes, we’ve all had some shitty things happen to us, but not everything in our past is bad.
We must focus on the now, and continue to build our lives how we see fit for ourself, not how others see fit for us.
5. We don’t get to pick our blood family.
While this old saying may be true, it doesn’t mean we have to keep these people as our “family.” Just because a set of people is connected to us through blood, doesn’t always mean they deserve to have us in their lives. Yes, this may sound incredibly harsh, but for so many of us the torture and endless toxicity that surrounds us when it comes to our families, just isn’t worth maintaining a relationship.
Many psychologists, friends, and random other people will argue that we’ll regret not spending time or communicating with these blood relatives, but as sad as it is, many of us have already, in some way, mourned the death of the people we once called our parents, or other family members.
I want to make it abundantly clear that I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone who has physically lost their parents, or other family members, but want to explain how many of us, in every sense besides the physical, have already lost our parents, or other family members too. It may not physically be the same, but emotionally it hurts just as much.
The beauty in growing up is that we do get to meet people, who think like us, and that want to build us up, rather than bring us down. The words mother and father don’t always mean accepting, loving, kind, and welcoming. It’s important to not get stuck on language, and to set ourselves free from the guilt that we’ve been made to feel for wanting a better life for ourselves, and for them as well.
Mentors and friends can often show us a life we want to have one day, and respectfully guide us, offer advice, and comfort us when we're down.
Ultimately, the decision is up to us, when it comes to the relationship we want to have with our families.
Going home for the holidays can mean seeing our amazing brother and sister, and just enjoying our time with them. It can mean going to our friend’s home, and feeling welcomed into their world. It can mean taking ourself on a journey to a new place.
Whatever we decide to make “going home for the holidays” mean, we must remember that it’s our decision now, and we control our own life. We need to hike our own hike, and let others hike theirs, but we can't get stuck on what we’re supposed to do. For this holiday season, we should get stuck on what we'd like to do for our own mental health, positive energy flow, and time to feel at peace.
We may not get to pick who we're blood related to, but we do get to pick who we are, who we surround ourselves with, and how we treat others, and we have to remind ourselves that no one can take that away from us.
We've got this, and we'll continue to only lead with love because that is who we are.