sometimes christmas doesn't feel like the most wonderful time of the year.

I'm so excited to have a blog posting on Christmas Day this year! I'm sharing some thoughts about how this season isn't always so jolly, and to encourage you if you feel this way.

Ahh, Christmastime. Most of the time, it’s a magical season for me—one that I eagerly anticipate for months in advance. And especially now that I’m a mom, I love doing everything I can to get my girls in the Christmas spirit and help them enjoy the holiday as much as I always have.

However, this year has been different. For the first time in a very long time, I’m just not really feeling the magic, and it really doesn’t even feel like Christmas to me. Can you relate?

I’m beyond blessed with a busy and thriving beauty and boudoir photography business.  I’m truly doing what I love and it fulfills me deeply. I have a beautiful family that both makes my heart burst with love and exhausts me at the same time (#pottytraining #sendhelp).

This time of year is incredibly busy for me, and just like clockwork, my entire family (including myself), and almost everyone involved in my business, got sick. This meant delayed orders for clients, long nights working to catch up when I should have been resting and recovering, sick days from school for my kids, and more than a few tears over the pressure of it all.

In the back of my mind, there was a voice shouting “this is Christmas! This is supposed to be the best time of the year and everything is supposed to be fun!” That led to more guilt that I wasn’t doing any of the things I normally look forward to all year.

One of those things is Black Friday shopping. Yes, I’m crazy, and yes, I totally love it.

My dad, my sisters, and I have done it for many years and it’s one of my favorite memories year in and year out. We get up crazy early, hit the sales, and have the time of our lives. It’s how we kick off the holiday season, and now that we’re older and have our own lives, it’s such a good way to spend time together.

But not this year. I had spent the entire Thanksgiving day in the ER with my youngest, who had pneumonia. My sisters had gone back home to Kansas to be with my grandparents who are no longer able to travel. I couldn’t go with them because I had shoots all the next day. I did still go shopping here in town, but it just wasn’t the same without my dad and sisters.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that day was kind of foreshadowing the rest of the season for me, and the disappointment and unmet expectations I’d face.

Listen, I know all this might seem pretty Debbie Downer in a time when everything is supposed to be Hallmark-perfect. But I know that I’m not the only one who is having a similarly challenging holiday season.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve been so busy with work and sickness that your usual holiday traditions have fallen by the wayside.

Maybe you split your time with different parts of your family, and you don’t get to see your loved ones for very long.

Maybe you have an empty seat at the table due to loss, deployment, or estrangement.

Maybe you’re in a difficult financial situation and you feel such guilt because you’re not able to give your kids the Christmas you want them to have.

Maybe you’re in a place in your life where the picture-perfect matching holiday jammies photos on social media are making you feel less than.

Maybe you’re all of the above and you don’t know how you’ll make it to January 1st.

I want to stop and say right now that I see you and the hurt you’re feeling. It’s okay if you don’t feel very jolly this Christmas. You’re not alone and you’re worthy, no matter your current circumstances.

Those Hallmark movies, am I right? They’re so predictable and delightfully cheesy and light-hearted. But I’ve noticed that they can make my life feel mundane and boring. And those influencers on social media? Man, they have the most perfect and clean kitchens and the most perfect and clean kids, don’t they? (Here’s a challenge for you—if you start feeling less-than because of someone’s Instagram page, just unfollow them! It works wonders).

Here’s what I propose for those of us who feel like we’re in a losing season right now—let’s be “life-neutral” for the time being. Yeah, I just made that up, but it reminds me of the idea of body neutrality I wrote about last month, where we stop trying to force ourselves to love our bodies all the time. Instead, we accept them and are thankful for them through all their seasons and changes.

Just like our bodies, our lives are full of seasons and changes. Sometimes we’re winning, and other times we’re losing. (I’ll write more on that soon). It’s hard not to feel obligated to be in a winning season during the holidays, but don’t fall into that trap.

Don’t be ashamed if you’re in a difficult place on Christmas. You are where you are, and I challenge you (and myself) to work on accepting it and not comparing yourself to someone else, or to where you think you should be. If you want to change your situation, great! If you want to stay content here for a while, that’s great, too.

Take time today to enjoy what you can, reflect on the good of this year and what you’ve accomplished. Be encouraged that you get a fresh start every day, there’s an entire lifetime and many more Christmases ahead of you!

Red Stiletto is Oklahoma's premier beauty and boudoir photographer, serving Norman, Oklahoma City, and surrounding areas

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