Making The Holidays About People, Positivity, & Happy Experiences
Growing up in a traditional Catholic family, we always attended Christmas Eve mass and then had the storybook Christmas morning with lots of gifts under and around our tree.
We didn’t have a ton of stuff, but for the six of us (my parents, 3 sisters and me) it was perfect.
Leading up to the holiday my parents had an Advent wreath and would light candles to represent different benchmarks leading up to Christmas Day.
Then, for the next 11 days, my mother would complain on and on about how all of the stores already took down their decorations and how the Christmas season technically begins on Christmas as the “first of 12 days.”
You couldn’t tell whether she was trying to make merry for another 11 days or just trying to make everyone wish they’d gotten new earmuffs to drown out the complaints.
She was not a bad mom… I don’t mean to paint her as such.
She was just highly opinionated and her opinions included that you should be made aware of 99% of her opinions.
In retail stores when clerks would wish her “Happy Holidays” she would frown and either respond (in a not-so-festive-tone) “Merry CHRISTMAS” or she’d simply grumble under her breath about how people should be saying Merry Christmas.
Though it was not her intention, that type of rigidity put her right up the grinch scale with Ebeneezer Scrooge.
Except she was exceedingly generous… but I digress…
You Can Overcome Your Past
My friends range from all walks of life, religious and cultural backgrounds, and corners of the globe.
While my family practices Christian traditions I’ve become much softer around the dogmatic edges than my mother… enjoying the parts of the holiday I enjoy and being relaxed about the preferences of others.
The one thing I won’t relax about is how much this time of year (unnecessarily) makes people stressed out and anxious.
The holidays can be fun and they can be relaxing.
They can have all of the gifts and parties and to-do’s and not drive us to sickness or exhaustion.
They can… I promise.
There are things I’ve found work for me to avoid some of the rush… they may work for you and they may not.
Each of them comes down to the simple act of being intentional about my planning so that I will make room for what’s to come – because there are no surprises ahead of us.
We all know traffic is going to be heavier and the lines in stores will be longer and certain products we may want to have will be less readily available
Telling you about all of my coping mechanisms is not the purpose of this blog post.
I’m happy to share them if you’d like – just let me know.
What I want to put out there for your consideration today is that regardless of your religious beliefs- regardless of what you’re actually celebrating…
Can you give your best effort for just the next 10 days to be about people and not things?
I may be late in the game asking for this… since this post is going public on the 23rd of December.
For all of those Christmas gift-exchanges due to happen in T-minus 48-hours and counting…
Can you take a deep breath and release the need?
Can you take a deep breath and release the want?
Can you take a deep breath and release the expectation?
Can you take a deep breath and allow other people to enjoy the holiday their way… even if it’s not your way?
Can you hold opinions, take deep breaths, and find the silver lining in the room?
I can’t resist giving you my trick on that last one.
It’s really quite amusing and at times has had grumpy people asking me “what’s so funny?”
I simply make a game out of the cliches that will happen in the room.
For example – If you know Aunt Betty is going to make a snarky comment about Cousin Sarah’s fruitcake, Uncle Fritz is going to take a dig at Uncle Sidney’s favorite football team, and Cousin Bernie is going to spill his soda even though his loud-talking and over-indulgent mom, Aunt Kay will “make him promise” to not “spill this time” – find a way to make a game out of it. Think about it like a college drinking game – with or without the booze… that’s on you to decide – and play all day.
It really makes life fun.
One thing I like to throw into my “playing life” game is different responses.
If people are expecting something from me, I like to toss in something completely off the wall every once in a while and just watch the confusion.
You can completely impact the energy and flow in the space when you do this.. and it’s a great tool to use when things aren’t going especially well.
This trick is actually my secret to getting through all sorts of otherwise negative or uncomfortable events.
My encouragement for you today, on Christmas Eve-Eve, is to chill the heck out.
Enjoy the bread with apple butter, spiced cider, apple pie, extra gravy on your roast, or whatever it is you like to indulge in for the holiday.
Refrain from placing judgment.
Enjoy the moment.
Look at your family members as though they’re characters in a sitcom and laugh the way you would at an old Friends, Seinfeld, or Everybody Loves Raymond episode.
If you’re too young to remember those shows, take some time to watch them because they’re freaking hilarious.
My wish for you… and what the whole GILD team wants for you… is to enjoy.
Be about people and experiences.
Forget about the stuff… unless the stuff helps you enjoy people and make memories (like the puzzle my family did 2 Christmases ago… oh, goodness… it was nearly all black – and we ended up trying to assemble it on a black table… and then finally realized our dog had eaten two of the puzzle pieces… we were so frustrated and ended up just laughing our butts off!).
We wish you a Merry Christmas & Merry Whatever-Else-It-Is-You-Celebrate and hope for you many Happy New Years to come.