“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
― Maya Angelou
The neighbors down the street already have their Christmas lights lit; they had them strung up the day after Halloween. While at first blush it seemed a little pre-mature, I realized it was the first day of November!
…And, at this point, two weeks from now, it will be Thanksgiving, and Christmas is only six weeks away.
Like many people, our household has had parties or gatherings scheduled every weekend, since mid-October, through to the end of the year. A quick glance at my calendar had my pulse racing. Yes, the “Holiday Hustle” is officially under way.
It is a good reminder for me to take a deep breath, and slow down.
If you are like me, it is easy to race ahead, to focus specifically on the events or tasks related to a particular day, say, Thanksgiving or Christmas (for others the focus may be Hanukkah or Kwanzaa). Which makes sense, of course, there are some deadlines: dinners to be cooked, cookies to be baked, presents to be purchased and wrapped, guests arriving.
However, from the beginning of November until New Year’s Eve, there is a span of 60 days which make up the holiday season. Remembering this gives me a little more perspective.
This expanded sense of time makes it easier to ask myself the question: “How do I want to approach these next 6 to 8 weeks on my calendar?”
Truth: we can take charge of our approach to the holiday season.
Will we get caught up in complaining about how much we have to do and how little time we have to do it in?
Will we allow ourselves to feel annoyed by traffic, fellow shoppers, and the hectic pace of running holiday-related errands after work?
Will we spend time feeling inadequate as we compare our lives to the images of perfection in magazine or catalog spreads, or heaven forbid that of our neighbors?
Set the Tone of Your Holiday Season:
Or, perhaps, like me, you will find the following list of questions a good way to harness the swirling energy of the Holiday Hustle:
What is it, exactly, about the holiday season, or each specific day –Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. – that are important to me?
What are my values and how will I express them this season?
What is my motivation; why am I doing what I am doing?
Once I started asking myself these types of questions I was able to more clearly articulate whether or not I was doing something out of a desire for genuine connection, or simply to look good, or out of a sense of obligation.
How do I want to be during this season?
What ways of being do I want to emphasize for myself?
What is my definition of each these attitudes or characteristics I want to live by?
For example, I recognize I am once again craving a relaxed, laid-back holiday season. Last year, relaxed and laid-back meant our household didn’t purchase or decorate a tree; however, this year I believe my definition of relaxed and laid-back can include a decorated tree, yet, most likely, not much else.
For someone else, relaxed and laid-back may mean full-on decorating, yet, finding a way to do it a little at a time so as to not be overwhelmed. A friend of mine, who decorates her home from top to bottom, including holiday themed soaps in the bathroom, schedules a day off from work to get her home spruced up – the final product is amazing, really.
What will bring me joy? What will help me savor this holiday season?
I know I’m not alone with the delicious image of sitting in front of a crackling fire with a glass of wine and Christmas music in the background; and yet, the only thing keeping me from moments like this is me. It turns out savoring begins with me, giving myself the permission to create enough space in my schedule to actually have those moments.
And, I’ve realized, even in my mid-forties, there are still certain cookies which need to be laid out on the platter for it to feel like Christmas.
What is something I can let go of this season which will make things easier and more relaxed?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten a lot happier as I’ve let go of a certain image in my mind of how things “should” be which is why there is more dust and less decorating in my house.
What is my intention for this gathering?
This question helps me focus on who I want to be: joyful, engaged, and so on; who I want to connect with; and it also helps me decide how many cookies I will eat, or how many glasses of wine I will drink.
What do I not want to have as part of my holiday experience?
How can I support myself in creating the holiday experience I do want?
Sometimes it can be easier to know what you don’t want, and then from there, be able to work your way towards what you really DO want as part of your experience.
For example, I’m not a fan of chaos, so for me to not have that as part of my experience, I sit down with my planner and block out time for certain activities. It doesn’t mean things always go according to plan; however, I ward off, with a little planning, the impending sense of doom chaos brings.
Reflection and Intention:
A little reflection, taking as little as ten minutes, and simply jotting a word or phrase in response to the above questions will help you shape your approach to the holidays.
You get to choose.
Will you fall prey to the maddening crowds, perfectionism, or comparison, and so on? Or, will you define, for yourself, what will bring you joy and peace this season?