Holidays are Special Relationship Times

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist

Ask. What Is the color of Christmas?" and anyone with an untwisted mind will say, "red." But Christmas really has two colors, red and blue.  

We see the Christmas red all around us as it is on display everywhere, but the blue is hard to see because we either hide it. or if it's hard to hide, we ourselves go in hiding away and out of everybody's sight. After all, nobody wants to spoil anybody's holidays by showing up to the party with a blue face.

Now you know I am not talking about the physical color blue. Do you know anyone who is going through holiday "blues"?

Christmas is about mending. Nursing and mending our relationships.  Giving a gift is a way of  expressing our love to our loved ones. a message that we care. But that's just one of the ways and doesn't have to be the I only way to care for and nourish others.  

Those in pain. tangled in  insoluble  dilemmas or preoccupied with formidable problems can easily feel lonely in a crowd. It's often difficult to hear!  Their silence in the sound of jingle' bells. Holidays are relationship times. 

We do observe these as family times. At this time, when I go to stores I see many more  parents and children together than I see any other, time of the year. Some of us take It a step further.  They open their hearts to strangers and they do it throughout the year. They are my heroes.  You may be one of them. 

"Opening our hearts to others" reminds me of a little trick I once learned.  The trick is that when you meet someone. visualize your heart (literally. the heart organ) opening up for that person like you open the lid of a box.

When I first heard of the trick, I thought it was just a make-believe trick. But then I decided to try it any- way. After all, no one could see what I was doing. `What did 1 have to lose?." I thought. . ' 

I can now say that there is some- thing in it. The more I visualize opening my physical heart, the more compassion and empathy I feel for other people.  See for yourself if it works for you too.

And what are you doing for your self? Symbolically, at one level Christmas is birth, signifying birth of a "new person" in each one of us.  This new you and then new me. Christmas signifies change.  Hopefully, we are giving birth to a new and better self.  Our inner person, who strives to become more compassionate, sensitivity, kinder and gentler

Therefore, now is the time (if you have not already done so) to form a vision of what the shape and form of that "new me" would be.  This should lead to forming pertinent "behavioral resolutions" for the new year. Each one of us should commit ourselves to actually taking special actions to grow and nurture that "newly born person" in us.

Psychotherapy, or what is often referred to as counseling, Is about change.  People seek help because they are "feeling" terrible. They want to feel better. 

A lot of people are surprised when they find out that to feel better they will need to change.  Some wish others would change so they can feel better.  One of the most important lessons In life is that to feel better and to have better things in life, one has to do better and become better. 

Being in the profession that I am, I know more about pain than I know about pleasure. It is so because the only time people  would come to us Is when they are in pain. So at this time of the year of, I am' touched with people who are in pain because this Christmas is the first Christmas after their loved one is no more. or because the wound of loss has reopened as the I holidays started approaching. 

I see people who are alone and  taking care of their sick and handicapped child, spouse or parent. all by themselves. On the inside, they feel unsupported and left out.  Though from the outside they would go through the motions of buying gifts and sending cards.  Their resentment is mixed with sadness. 

So for today. let's call someone with whom we have been out of touch.  Contact someone who you think may be shying away from contact.  How about surprising  an acquaintance who would have least expected a call from you?  If you have a little more time on hand when you run into somebody, ask from your heart how they've been doing, instead of a perfunctory, "How are you? Fine.   Thank you!" 

Plan an activity for someone who is been lonely. Join children and relish the freshness and zest of life just as they do.  Above all, make a list of things for which you are grateful.  Spend the day of Christmas with the attitude of gratitude. 

One way the peace on earth can be strengthened is this:  Believe that you are a very important and beautiful person.  Believe that others too are very important and beautiful people. 


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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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