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When the Party's Over: Dealing With Disappointment

Dear friends,

Well, the holidays are over. The season of festivities that sweeps across us from October through the first of January can be a whirlwind of travel, celebrations, family gatherings, and special events. It can also be a season of high expectations, and sometimes of tough disappointments.

The party might not go quite as well as we’d hoped. The joy of family gatherings might be tempered by the flu, the common cold, or by more serious health challenges. We might come away from all that gift-giving feeling like our cupboards are bare, and our bank accounts are lower than they should be (or the credit card bills higher than they should be).

How do we deal with the let-down that comes after the build-up to the holiday season?

I’m personally experiencing some disappointment this year, because my son—who lives in California and whom I don’t get to see very often—wasn’t able to travel to the east to visit family as we had hoped this year. I am feeling sad and disappointed. But at the same time, I am cultivating an attitude of gratitude about it all: I am glad my kids have a healthy sense that they can make choices that are right for them, even when others may have expectations that don’t match their needs. I am grateful that I got to see some snow this holiday season, and spend a couple days with my daughter. I am hopeful that my son and I will come up with some great, new adventure to have together. And I am trying to pay attention to what’s working, rather than what’s not working.

But I’m also a big believer in allowing ourselves to feel our sadness and loss, rather than ignoring it. Dealing with disappointment and let-downs can be a real challenge, especially if there are old, unresolved hurts or losses that are bubbling below the surface. So rather than just try to brush these things aside, the cold and dark of winter can be a good time for a little extra self-care. January is a good month to spend a little extra introvert time, now that all that extrovert time is past. It’s a good time to think about how we might take better care of ourselves in the future, and tend to our own needs. It’s a time for making resolutions, but I believe that the healthiest resolutions are more about encouraging what we love, than about punishing ourselves for things we see as imperfections.

So take time this month to honor what you need, to cultivate your dreams, and to give yourself some healing rest and renewal.

Happy New Year,

Rev. Carol

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