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  • Kathryn Werner, PA-C

It's the most wonderful time of the year...right?

Holidays can be tricky. There's so much "magic" - the trees, the lights, the music. But when you couple that with so much to do and so many expectations, not to mention the shorter days and colder temperatures, most of us end up with some complicated feelings around the holidays.

Some of it seems to be purely practical; the stress of more activities, family gatherings, and financial burden can trigger a feeling of "stress" or anxiety. But for some of us, the holidays trigger much bigger feelings - feelings of loss or inadequacy or even of past hurts.

The typical holiday trimmings, meant to help us enjoy the seasons, are also powerful cues of Christmases past and remind us of our hopes for Christmases future. The music, the smells, the traditions are all triggers - for good or bad.

So what do we do? How do we manage the triggers? How do we experience this season with all it's complexities and nuances?

I guess an easy answer would be to simplify things - ignore whichever feelings of the season doesn't seem to fit. Fully give in to the happy or sad of the holidays. But as humans, most of us don't do simple well. Compartmentalizing things just isn't something we're built for.

So maybe a better option would be to accept or even embrace that the holidays are complicated - that the very mystery present in the magical parts of the holidays is also the same mystery in the loss and the hurt. That maybe the magic IS that we as humans are able to experience the happy and the sad and all the rest - often simultaneously.

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