Special occasions can be difficult for any number of reasons. Holidays like Christmas bring so much anticipation and sometimes overwhelming expectations. In order to enjoy the holidays, you need to set your goals on something superior than lavish gifts or the fanciest dinner. It’s not news that the holidays can bring on bouts of depression in many people. And there are reasons people go through these emotions at a season that is so highly commercialized and publicly anticipated for months. It seems that stores begin their preparation for Christmas and New Year’s Eve around Halloween. All this drives anticipation in children to a frenzy and the adults to distraction!
Effectively manage the holiday overload and enjoy the holidays
- Start with the most important first – your relationships.
Focus on those who should be at the center of our world, especially at a time when we are celebrating. Start early, when children are young and tell them about what Christmas means to you. Memories are made when you touch the heart of a loved one by simple means, not expensive gifts. Relationships can suffer when your focus is on things rather than the people who are the heart of your home.
- Keep it simple.
No need to have the perfect decorations or the ideal dinner menu. What is more meaningful than the popcorn and cranberries strung by hand from that preschooler who wanted to make something special to decorate the tree? Family meals are so important to create a long-lasting bond.You don’t have to do it all. Holiday dinners can be even more special by allowing others to contribute their “specialties.” Almost everyone asks “what can I bring?’ Take them up on it and make dinner time a smorgasbord of favorites from every guest. If someone doesn’t cook, let them bring something of their choosing to add to the meal – a bottle of wine for the adults or a centerpiece to adorn the table.
- Everyone contributes.
Include the children, as age appropriate, to help with the preparations. Children love to feel like they are part of the process. They can handle kitchen tasks like decorating cookies or setting the table. Don’t let the perfectionism set in.
- Be in the moment.
While the day is unfolding, be present – moment to moment – so you can form those lasting memories. If you are stuck in the kitchen doing the dishes, you will feel resentful and left out. Let it go for a day or at least until the celebrating is over. And, of course, let others help you! Focus on what is important – the people and the purpose of the season.
For those of you who may not see the holidays as a time to celebrate, take the opportunity to give back. If the season brings on feeling of sadness, there are ways to make it a more meaningful experience for you and others. Create a new tradition where you give back to someone else. The act of giving without the expectation of reciprocation is freeing and helps improve our mood. There are many opportunities to spread the joy of the season, even if you are not feeling it right now.
- This may be the first time you are spending Christmas without the kids. Find some other Moms or Dads who are experiencing the same “empty nest” and have a new kind of “family dinner” together.
- If you’re not looking forward to having Christmas dinner by yourself, volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen serving food for others who may not otherwise have a Christmas dinner.
- Pay it forward. While standing in line to get your morning coffee, pay for the next person in line and just say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
- If you are unable to leave the house, then take a few moments to say a quiet prayer for someone else who may be suffering a loss or who needs that extra sign of love. It costs nothing but pays great dividends.
- This may be the year you decide to mend those long broken fences with family or friends. It’s only difficult thinking about it. Once you make the decision to do it, it becomes so much easier.
Whatever you decide to do this year, I hope you will feel moved by the spirit of the season to share of yourself in whatever way that works for you. Respond below on what you did or plan to do to help motivate others. As a “family” we are here to help each other. We are all brothers and sisters in spirit. And I love hearing from you.
For those of you who celebrate other religious holidays or none at all, I hope you take the time to read my post Merry Christmas, Sincerely where I explain my reasoning behind the use of Merry Christmas as my holiday greeting.
It is in that spirit that I send you this wish for Peace, Joy and Hope in the New Year.
Photo Credit: IWLA