Finding Peace for Your Holiday: Navigating Family Gatherings

Published On: December 15th, 2021
How are you seeking to find peace and even joy this holiday season?  It can be hard for survivors if being at a family gathering means being around abusers or people who diminished or excused the abuse.

Earlier this month, we shared part of a survivor’s story about Secrets and Seasons of Life. Michelle’s father was the abuser and her mother insisted she “forget about all of this.”  Her minister, her supposed faith leader, said to “pray about this and go home.”  During a season that highlights family and faith, what are survivors to do?

As we travel our journeys, we sometimes encounter difficulties from people who expect us to be secret keepers. Whether you choose to share your story and how much of it you choose to share is completely up to you!

“It’s not our responsibility as survivors to protect offenders or preserve the status quo in our families. Yet, since we are socialized not to rock the boat, gatherings can be very anxiety-producing events.”

Rev. Mary Frances Comer

If you’ve ever dreaded a family gathering or cringed at the thought of a visit, you are not alone.  As we enter into yet another holiday season, here are a couple of reasons why you may want to reconsider your holiday plans.

  • An easy answer is, we’re in a pandemic. While Covid-19 morphs and continues to spread, it’s safer to have a very small gathering or to visit via Zoom or some other face-time venue (if you’d like).
  • Know that your peace, happiness, and joy are vital. If that means doing something different this year or breaking away from family tradition, then go for it!
What if, you’ve already been invited; you’ve already said you’d be there. What will happen if you cancel or don’t show up? The world will keep on spinning, and your peace may expand. You can go next year or never again.

Here’s the bottom line: Spend your holiday exactly as you wish, or ignore it altogether.

What would a peaceful holiday look like to you? Have you ever had a peaceful holiday? Let’s take a moment to envision what the best day would look like for you.
If you’re comfortable doing so…
Close your eyes and take a deep, cleansing breath.  Imagine breathing in peace and breathing out whatever you need to let go of.
Breathe in as deeply as is comfortable for you; hold that breath as you count to four; and then release as you count to four again.
Do this a few times until you feel your energy shift a bit.
In this space of possibility, ask yourself:
  • “What do I want to do on my day off?  What would I want for my holiday experience?”
  • “Who do I want to communicate with or spend time with?”
  • “Do I want a quiet meal at home with a movie or some time in nature with my fur family?”
  • “Is there a place I want to explore or visit?”
  • “What will bring me peace?”
  • “What will encourage my soul?”
Consider journaling your thoughts.
Be patient with yourself as doing what YOU want or need to do may be a new experience for you. The main thing is that you take good care of you.
After you claim what is spirit-feeding for you, maybe you let your intention soak in by savoring a cup of hot tea or resting in a warm bath.  Whatever feels self-nurturing.

May you usher in the new year with abundant hope. Remember, you are fierce and filled with courage, and you will find ways to thrive as you live fully into who you want to be.

Meanwhile, we are here for you, and we’d love to hear from you! Tell us what you’re doing to take care of you as you close out 2021.

Rev. Mary Frances Comer

This blog is an excerpt from the work of Rev. Mary Frances Comer who was on the founding advisory team of Survivors to Thrivers. She served as an educator prior to becoming a Unitarian minister. 

Talk To Tambry

I am glad you have taken the time to engage with this blog.  Sometimes it is helpful to process new insights that emerge.  If you would appreciate brief time with a someone who understands, our Talk to Tambry offering is for you.  For 30 minutes, you can receive support from Tambry who is a certified life coach, spiritual director and a survivor who has been on the journey as well.  This is offered at a reduced rate of $50.

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