Do you dread the holidays like I do? How about some strategies for navigating an often daunting time? Let’s look at three ideas for making the season relaxing rather than relentless.
Personalities and Positives
Some people love to decorate and bake, revel in shopping and shipping. I, for one, am grateful for them! They make the season festive for those of us (often introverts) who adore bits and pieces of the cultural ado but would rather wade the edges than dive in. There’s nothing more delightful than driving through the streets and lanes during the darkest part of the year – and seeing fanciful lights gracing greenery and eaves.
A big thank you to all the decorators out there! We appreciate you!
This strategy is so simple it’s easy to overlook. If you love hanging one string of lights but decorating the whole house turns you into a Scrooge, then hang the one string and enjoy the effect. Whatever pleases you, do that piece and revel in it.
Personally, I love the tree once it’s up, but getting it there requires outside intervention (often in the form of a grown son who gently chides me into finding a sliver of Christmas spirit). I’m always grateful for the nudge. Bonus: The grandkids and the cat love the tree, which gives me a great deal of pleasure.
The key? Relationships, not things matter, though sometimes things nurture relationships!
Are there expectations that weigh on you like a sack of coal? The traditional family dinner, typically rife with conflict when this particular group gathers? Battling traffic and hordes of shoppers? The decorations, baking, annual parties?
Look at alternatives. Get creative! Shop online. Ask for help with decorating, and maybe combine the task with an earlier holiday family dinner. Do pizza or potluck. Shake up traditions – or create new ones!
Perhaps more important than any of these logistical ideas is this: Let go of grudges held too long, of bitterness that corrodes your soul, of pain that once served a purpose but has become instead a habit.
Forgive others. Ask for forgiveness. We all hurt others, especially those closest to us. Don’t let the season go by without attempting to mend these wounded relationships.
An attitude of gratitude begets joy. And joy is too exuberant to be hoarded. It’s meant to be shared. And it doesn’t cost a dime. A smile for a stranger. Eye contact and a thank you for a retail salesperson. A compliment to a barista’s manager.
Or pay it forward: $5 or $10 for the person behind you at the grocery store. An extra dollar or two in the Salvation Army bucket. A gift bag for a child or an elderly person on an angel tree. A more generous tip than usual for a harried server.
Volunteer somewhere. As trite as it sounds, people in nursing homes and food lines need us. Don’t just think about it; do it. Human contact makes us all more human, and we often receive more than we give when we step out of our comfort zone.
When we connect with people face-to-face, when we remind ourselves that people matter more than things, when we remember the reasons the holiday season exists (hint: it’s not to contribute to corporate profits), then we can let go of unwieldy expectations and enjoy some hot cocoa by a fire with family and friends. And visit our place of worship, even if it’s been a while. I’m sure there’s a light on for you there. ♥
How can I not mention one of my favorite ways to await the lengthening of days? Find a good book at your local library, one that uplifts and warms your heart, and enjoy it as you sip your cocoa or eggnog. ♥♥♥