Resilience is one of those current buzz words. I read blog posts, books and newsletters, all of which advocate the importance of resilience. I hear psychologists, doctors, teachers, academics all talk about building resilience. And I agree. It is an important characteristic; it’s the ability to bounce back. A lot can go awry in life and inner strength is needed to deal with the woes and worries that attempt to knock us down.
Particularly, at this time of year, resilience is necessary. There are people for whom Christmas wears them down, people who are alone and sad, people who have dysfunctional, toxic families and prefer not to spend time in such an environment. There are others who don’t have enough money for presents or food, even. There are people who are gravely ill, and can’t muster enthusiasm to celebrate.
Two days before Christmas, my family and I began the 700-plus kilometre trek from Melbourne to Adelaide so that we can spend the big day with my parents, brothers and their families. We were also planning to spend the afternoon of Christmas Eve with extended family members, cousins and their offspring; we hadn’t all been together for many years. Roughly 200kms into our trip, the steering on our car packed in. We pulled into the next country town, stopped at a petrol station to buy power steering fluid to fill the car’s power steering tank in the engine. As Hubster poured it in, I watched it flow out onto the ground below the engine at the same rate: a crack in the pipe was our best hope; I don’t want to think about the worst option. Hubster made the devastating decision to turn for home, knowing it was wiser to guide the car only 200kms rather than the further 500kms to get to Adelaide. Our children took the news well, all things considered. They were disappointed, there were tears, but they understood the gravity of the situation and knew that their dad was making the right, but difficult, decision. He was keeping us all as safe as possible.
Though, this choice to turn for home had troubling implications. In my planning for Christmas, I assisted Father Christmas in the presents he brings for my children by choosing and purchasing online, and having them delivered to my parents’ home. This was clever on my part, as it meant that Hubster and I didn’t have to hide them in the back of the car, with the kids in transit. I lauded myself, at the time, for my forward planning. Now, of course, it meant that our kids would have no Father Christmas presents on Christmas Day and I was metaphorically slapping my forehead, wondering how I was going to guide the kids through this problem. Two of my children are teetering on the edge of belief, at 10 years of age, they’ve heard many school friends explain where those presents ‘actually’ come from. I was worried this would be the end of magic for them.
So, my children woke on Christmas morning with empty sacks at the end of their bed. The disappointment was evident in their tone, when one said to me, ‘Mum, Santa hasn’t been’. I responded by saying he’s most likely left them at Grandma’s house, and that we’d call her as soon as it became a more respectable hour. A quick phone call assured the children that there were indeed Father Christmas presents for my children, and Grandma was working on a plan to get them to us as soon as possible.
Back to resilience. I am proud of the way my kids behaved in this situation. Hubster and I laid the groundwork, of course. On the drive home, we talked about how our predicament wasn’t so bad. There was nothing seriously wrong with me, Hubster or our kids. We reinforced that the car, although limping, hadn’t crashed and we weren’t hurt. And although there might be a sinister issue with the car, it is fixable, albeit possibly expensive. We reminded the children that there are many people in situations much worse than us. We are loved, missed, cared for and healthy. And proudly, my children bounced back from their disappointment. We watched as their resilience kicked in.
I hope that your personal store of resilience is stocked. However your Christmas and Boxing Day panned out, I want you to be aware that you have everything you need within you, to get through each day, any day. Sure, there may be days, weeks even, when you feel that this is untrue – I feel it myself at times. But let me assure you that it’s there. And that there are people who care for you, even if you are unaware. Somebody knows your name, somebody can lend a hand if you are unable to pick yourself back up. Look around you, look within you, and find your inner strength. Grasp onto your resilience, go up and never stop.