It’s that time again. We are set to experience the most hectic month of the year for most of us. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We can’t wait for the holidays. Or maybe we dread this time. Or, chances are, we are somewhere in between. But, we all have hope that this is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever. The best Christmas ever. And then when we actually spend Thanksgiving and we actually celebrate Christmas, so often we don’t feel jolly and we don’t feel much like bringing joy to the world. So, what do you think, is this year going to be different?
Well, I don’t know what is going to happen with your holidays. But, what if I can do is give some insight from what I am learning about the brain and the holidays from neurotheologian, Dr. Jim Wilder, and why we experience what we experience during the holidays. It is all about the attachments we have with other people.
Welcome to the attachment center of your brain. Brain research suggests that this area of the brain is the foundation for the entire region of the brain that helps us experience and regulate emotions. When this area of the brain is securely attached to others (including God) in healthy joy-filled relationships, we can have tremendous capacity to enjoy life and relationships. We might even call this “love.” When life is characterized by joy and positive emotions it affects every region of the brain. When the attachment center is well developed, everything we think, do or say is changed. When there is high joy, lots of smiles and shining eyes, when we are glad to be together, then no problem, Merry Christmas!
But what if the person you are attached to is missing?
What if they have died, or what if you are divorced, or what if it is an adult child who has moved away?
Whomever this might be, if it is an attachment, your brain doesn’t allow substitutions. If you lose someone you can’t just simply replace them. What you are experiencing is attachment pain.
Attachment pain comes in another way, too. If people you are attached to will not be glad to be with you this holiday season. Or peoples. You see, there are individual attachments and group attachments.
Holidays are miserable if any of those attached people are missing.
And holidays are awful if attached people will not be glad to be with us.
We become unhappy if a group doesn’t get along well.
And the more people who don’t bring joy, the more reason we dread the holiday season.
So, what can we do to make the experience better, generally?
What has been your experience when a loved one was missing at Christmas?