“Triggers”, and How to Defeat Them

That time of year is upon us — you know, the holidays.  For some, it’s a stress-fest; for me, it’s always been an extra special time for family, with one exception — setting up the tree.  Growing up, the holiday season was the one time during the year that my dad was happy; as a result, the belt stayed wrapped around his waist . Being an electrician, he was the one decking everything with lights — the halls, the tree, and the top of the house.  If there was a spot to light and we had money to illuminate it, you can bet it would glow.

These were the happy times of my childhood — the exception, like I said, was decorating the tree.  I can still hear his voice warning me that if I did it wrong – say, I hung a glass bulb on a light string — he would kick my butt. He sat in his chair and told me how to do it:  lights must be strung evenly around the inside of the tree, bulbs went next, and so on.  I did love to put up the tree, but the whole time I was terrified I would mess-up and then the holiday happiness would be gone.  So every year while we set-up our tree, which I’m so thrilled to do, I’m stressed.

What’s my point in telling you this story? This year, I went into it knowing that I would be stressed putting up our tree.  I went into it knowing that I’m a Christmas tree-perfectionist, from my earliest training, and that if our tree was “imperfect”, I’d be likely to become stressed.  But this year I didn’t lose my cool or end up yelling at anyone.  This year I walked in with my eyes wide open and, because of that realization, I decorated the tree with my family stress-free.  We had fun, we laughed, and we gazed in awe at our imperfect tree, decorated by the tiny hands of our children.  I took deep breaths and lived in the moment.  There is hope.  As long as I’ve got the strength to look the problem in the eye and see the truth of my emotions, then, there is hope for a solution — and with it, precious memories of that moment.

Our imperfect tree... Yet, our best one ever.

Our imperfect tree… Yet, our best one ever.

— written by Mama Bear

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