Creating New Holiday Memories

By Lisa Garber

The December Holiday season is a really tough time for many people. Besides the days getting shorter and the lineups getting longer, the holidays can evoke waves of sad memories from the past.

Whatever dysfunction is brewing in a family, it usually percolates during the holidays. I grew up lonely in a house full of large personalities. I never felt that I was special enough to belong. When the holidays came, I would see my friends all gathering, hanging together, looking postcard perfect. My family just looked wild and disheveled. I was an outsider among outsiders.

In later years, that sadness and longing would haunt me as I took excursions through residential areas of the city I moved to. I would walk for hours, staring at the holiday lights, glimpsing inside large bay windows at what I thought were happy families, all the time longing to be a part of one. I got really good at fantasizing.

Of course, I have learned that no one has a perfect life or a perfect family. So I don’t wander around anymore looking to be adopted. Now, during the holidays, I get really proactive in creating new, more enjoyable memories. I make sure I am not alone. I carefully pick the people I want to be with. And I manage my mood by focusing on the everyday joys of the season.

Here are three of my mood-enhancing holiday pick-me-ups so far this year:

  1. Laughing with my 4-year-old great niece over the endless and precise holiday list she has created that only includes things that are pink.
  2. Picking out some spectacular presents for four very special people and getting them at a huge discount!
  3. Waking up every morning reciting a list of all the things I am so grateful for in my life today and every day.

No matter how sorrowful the past holidays were, I encourage you to create new, more enjoyable memories now. Your past does not have to predict your future.



Lisa Garber is a Life and Leadership Coach and author of “Becoming a Mother on Fire: How to be a mom without losing yourself.”

She lives in Toronto and is going to New York City for Christmas.

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One Response to “Creating New Holiday Memories

  • Great article Lisa! I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. It’s nice to know I am not the only one whose memories of the holidays aren’t all rosy and happy… working really hard to make it different for my kids!


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