This time of year can be difficult for many people for a variety of reasons. I have often felt a sense of disappointment and general melancholy around the holidays because my expectations about what they should be like have always fallen short of reality. Much of this began around childhood when the magic of the holidays faded into the recognition of complicated family dynamics and obligations that many times had strong undercurrents of resentment, anger, or rejection that as a child are blissfully out of awareness until the age of about 10-12.
Other people feel that the holidays invokes feelings of loneliness or loss, while others have maintained fond and positive memories of the season. I've as I've grown up it has become increasingly more important to give myself what I need. Of course one can take this literally to mean buying myself the presents or gifts I wanted (I still haven't given myself those flexi-blocks I did to get that year I was 10, but I will....I will.), but there is a deeper element to self-nurturance.
I'm thankful that now that I am an adult even though I may have to budget and plan more carefully if I need something or want something I can give it to myself. The empowering part of this is that instead of being at the mercy of parents or relatives to satiate my desire I can give myself what I want and not risk projecting my disappointment onto those who quite likely are doing the best they can within their limitations.
I was a kid who used to judge on how well my close loved ones knew me by how personal and unique their gifts were. Is saw each generic gift as a sign that I was not seen, understood or appreciated for my specific presence, and consequently began comparing my boon to others. I know I'm not alone in my holiday orientation, because as our egos develop it is natural for our ego messages to usurp everything, even Christmas or Hanukkah and interpret various happenings as reflections on the self. Some egos begin to believe if they don't give the best gift, or find the most personalized gift they are inadequate, it's just a matter of how the ego orients itself in the world according to one of the nine motivations.
I also expected the atmosphere around Christmas to be a certain way, and for people to behave a certain way. In essence I had an ideal constellated around not just material objects but around behavior, feelings and attitudes. I expected magical transformations, reconciliations and positive emotional and energetic changes and then felt short-changed when it turned out to be just another day with a few more toys, some extra food and a tree.
As we become adults we can give ourselves what we need, not only materially but emotionally. Expecting others to administer to our emotional needs is a habit that we develop from being at the mercy of others as children, when it's imperative these needs are met by caretakers. We even learn to use the phrase, "you made me feel ______". However, the phrase contains an inherent fallacy that is never re-wired even once we're adults. Nobody can "make" us feel. Even if someone has a gun to our heads, our feelings stem from your thoughts, and unless someone has Jedi mind powers their not making you feel any way.
Yes, it would be fantastic if everybody was conscious of their own behavior toward other people, but the truth of the matter is everybody is busy trying to take care of themselves. And consequently, that's exactly what they should be doing.
In fact, if everybody took better care of themselves, in a holistically responsible way, people wouldn't be accused of hurting anyone's feelings because people would see that they are the only ones that can hurt their own feelings.
If you ask yourself who is responsible for your happiness the only truthful answer should be you. As soon as you think someone else made you feel disappointed, angered, ignored, transgressed or overlooked it's time to get clear about reality again. Your idea of what people should or shouldn't do is what created those feelings. In truth, that person was doing exactly what they should be doing to show you where your work is. They become your spiritual teacher. And even though it may have been a disappointment, it was an act of love, because they gave you a perfect mirror for your spiritual work.
I've practiced this lesson over the years and I've grown thankful for the disappointments I've garnered. It is a constant work in progress. Sure, I still feel the emotion of disappointment, but I recognize that it's directly connected to my thoughts about what reality should be.
Reality is what it is. As a child I didn't have the awareness to not argue with reality because the child's prerogative is fantasy, and sometimes fantasy is beautiful (at which case why let go of it?) However as we grow up fantasy frequently becomes nightmarish and painful, and as such can be replaced with surrender and acceptance of the way of it if we want to get back to peace.
I feel empowered by the knowledge that nobody can disappointment me. Only I can do that. If I start to believe that somebody or something can disappoint me, I know I need to revisit my beliefs about the way things should be, and until my beliefs match reality, 100% I have more work to do.
It'll take some work for those of us who are used to hanging on to ideal expectations in the face of reality, but with some time you can give yourself the most perfect holiday season eve: the gift of surrender will never break, go out of style, and its firmware is constantly updated through recognition of the present moment. It is quite literally the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. And the only cost is your unhappiness.