December 2008 Kim McIntyre Cannold
Guide for a Happier Holiday Season
Once again it is that time of the year to gather around the dinner table and stuff ourselves full of Season’s Greetings. We may hope for happy festivities where everyone gets along and no one spills cranberries on the carpet, but reality sometimes falls short of the ideal. We may wish to approach our seasonal duties with the joy of a Santa’s elf, but then find ourselves screaming obscenities at the idiot who cut in front of us to claim the last known parking spot at the Mall. How do we cope with the extra holiday burdens and still find a way to enjoy ourselves? Below are some ideas to lighten your load and lift your spirits.
What is the worst thing that could happen if you didn’t get it all done? Are the Holiday Police going to come to your door to arrest you for not having time to create a Martha Stewart Christmas? Take a look at that to-to list of your and ask the following questions: Which things absolutely have to get done? Which things need to be done first? What is the easiest way to get these things done? Can any of these items be done by someone other than me? For instance, buying Christmas cookies at the bakery or getting your presents gift wrapped at the store.
Ask for Help
This can be difficult for many people. It might not even dawn on you that you could ask for help. Or, you might not want to let someone else take on your tasks because they might not do it as well as you. Or, you might be afraid to ask. “What if the person says no?” Or, “What if they say ‘yes’, but really resent doing it?” If you take the risk and ask for help, you never know what you’re going to get, but you might just end up receiving the blessing of allowing someone else to give to you.
Brainstorm New Strategies
Make yourself a list of everything you find challenging about the holidays. Then get together with a couple good friends and brainstorm new ways to respond. You have no control over long lines - but if you know it bothers you, then be prepared with an ipod full of happy music to listen to. Or, use that waiting time to practice deep breathing. You have no control over your relatives - but you can shift your own attitudes and expectations if you need to. That is under your control. Most stress comes not from our external circumstances, but from our reactions to them.
Create more fun moments with friends and family
Break up the routine a little and add more playfulness and lightheartedness. Go to a local holiday festival or sporting event, play silly games, drive around town to visit the most outrageous holiday lights displays, go bowling together, etc. You may consider doing some sort of holiday volunteer work as a family. What could be more beautiful than giving the gift of your time and love to those in need?
Rediscover the Holiday Spirit
The holiday season is filled with the spirit of miracles. Christianity brings us the miracle of the Christ child born in a manger. Judaism gives us the miracle of the Hanukkah menorah which burned for eight days where there was only enough oil for one day. The African-American holiday of Kwanzaa reminds us of the miracles of family and community. Each day we experience the miracle of life with every breath we take. Open your heart this holiday season and give the miraculous gift of love to yourself and to others. Make a commitment to yourself to find ways to carry this love with you throughout the New Year and beyond.
In this time of budget tightening, it’s a wonderful opportunity to remember that it is the gift of ourselves that brings true joy.
Kim McIntyre Cannold helps people to relax, lighten up and transform. You can read more about her programs and services at joyfulbeing.com