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Making the Holidays Work for You

I was about to launch into another character type description but decided to opt for lighter faire for the holiday season. You all have been quite patient with my intellectual ramblings on character types so you get a break in December.

What to discuss? This season does invoke contented feelings for me as I always appreciate colder, hopefully moister weather. I like the earlier darker nights I have always appreciated the flurry of seasonal lights. Many people dread the darkness and much prefer the summer’s sunny light. There are a multitude of other reactions to this time of year as there can be ample provocative triggers. Some people react to commercialism, others are reminded of uncomfortable family issues or have to navigate through family gatherings fraught with issues. Or the general pressures of holiday events and demands take a toll.

How can you make the holidays work for you? There is always lots of advice on adjusting to the stress of the holidays. I will add to the kibitzing and suggest that reducing your ‘compliant pleaser’ might be a helpful idea. Of course, the holidays demand some accommodation with family and friends — that is realistic. But some of us can take it to extremes where we lose our self to others and end up resentful, frustrated and disappointed.

I am suggesting that you check-in with yourself and see what you really enjoy, what you really want. The check-in involves time, space, concentration and deep listening within. Then you can think, feel and know what makes sense for you. After that process, go about setting up, maybe with a bit of negotiation with a partner, family or friends, a seasonal event that really fits for you. This should not be a time for self-sacrifice. Rather, if you give, you should do so because you want to and you have been conscious in your decision-making all the way. So on that note, eliminate your inauthentic and insincere pleaser or the part of you that passively follows. And eliminate the part of you that is on autopilot doing what you always do without consideration.

Pick activities or events you definitely enjoy or want to try out. If you enjoy baking, set out a day or two and do that. Invite your child, a friend or a family member to make cookies or cakes with you. Relish the creativity and the accomplishment of this creative act and enjoy the pleasure of the results. If you like ballet, get tickets and plan a full day of enjoyment. Go by yourself if it suits your mood. Go for proper tea or make tea for a friend and have delicious treats alongside; create your own English tea trolley. If you like holiday cheer and enjoy decorating, then have a good time over-doing the decorations. Then stand back and watch everything light up and twinkle. Make sure you figure out what works best for you and set about making those events happen. Pick 2 things that make you, yes you, happy and arrange them.

Maybe your holiday season is a time of rest; give yourself permission to not do. To settle back and simply take space from working and pushing, and enjoy the quiet of this time of year as darkness descends. The dark months can allow for inner contemplation and comforting solitude with less busyness.

Another way to experience special feelings is to give in a way you haven’t. Can you volunteer time at a hospital, with children in need, at a food kitchen or other community places that provide services? What about donating or getting involved in new and different ways? Can you pick a heartfelt, generative activity that you have never done before?

Present giving: what about setting some new limits if gift giving is a pressure. Maybe family members give only one gift each to remind us to eliminate excess; always a good idea as we all need to move toward simplification and sustainability. What about creating a gift certificate for an activity to be redeemed during the year? Make a promise of a special out of the ordinary walk, event or trip with someone special.

The bottom line is to choose. Do not keep rituals unless they have aliveness in them. We can choose to depart from old habits and create new rituals for ourselves. Sit with your partners, friends and families and discuss what events or activities or non-activities are of current value. Live the holiday season in terms of what makes sense now — in this time of your life. Take charge and make it the best it can be. Now is an opportunity.

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