The holidays are a time of happiness, gatherings with those you love, and joy… except when they aren’t. For many children and adults, the holidays are a time of stress, anxiety and trauma triggers. It can be hard navigating trauma over the holidays.
The holiday season can be full of triggers. The people, the chaos, the excess. It can all be way too much for those with a history of trauma.
The in your face advertising, portraying the season as a time of peace, joy, love and family, can be especially hard for those that do not have those things. Children who are struggling with a history of neglect or abuse may especially struggle during this time. Or those that have lost loved ones either through death, adoption or estrangement.
Sometimes the holidays are not filled with love and family.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure I am the best person to speak to this issue. See we don’t really celebrate the holidays. It’s a very quiet affair in our lives. There are no other children in our family and most of the adults in our lives leave during the holidays.
Most years we spend Christmas Eve at the science museum. It’s amazing how crowded it is on this day! Obviously we are not the only ones that don’t do the TV perfect holidays.
By not having the traditional holiday chaos we are able to regulate triggers a little easier. We transition through the holiday season fairly smoothly and easily. Except when the propaganda telling us what the holidays are supposed to be becomes a trigger for my children.
It’s at this time of year I get the questions:
Why are there no other children in the family?
Why don’t we do a big Christmas like everyone else?
Why does everyone else go away at Christmas?
Over the years we have developed our own little traditions. Special moments celebrating those we love. In the end, I hope that is what my children take away from our holidays. That it is really just a day. A day like any other. Some may travel or fill their holidays with excess, but in the end it can be just a day like any other. It doesn’t need to be stressful or hard. We can still retain some control over our experiences and our holidays, and not let others dictate what makes a a day important. And we can make it special in any way we like.