I just ate three red and green sprinkled pop tarts – the holiday season must be here!
For years now I have come to dread the holiday season. We never have a good place to put the tree, the decorations make me feel smothered and I am ready to go to blows every time I go to the mall. A woman actually pushed me to the side with her shopping cart at Toys R Us last week and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. It could be those reasons, or maybe it’s cause my mom inconveniently died between Christmas and New Years. Watch out for me on Dec 29th, I am usually drunk. Whatever the reason, I haven’t enjoyed the holidays as one should and I really want that to change.
I am sure my dissatisfaction with Christmas has mostly to do with the last reason on my list. The death of a parent is heart wrenching at any time of the year but if it falls near an important holiday or birthday, it can be brutal. I have realized in recent months that I let myself get into a pattern of sadness around Christmas because it is the anniversary of my mom’s death. I wasn’t letting myself enjoy the season because I should be in mourning for my mother. I now realize that isn’t fair to me. It isn’t fair to my husband or my child. Christmas is for celebrating joy and life and in doing so, I keep my mother with me, celebrating, living on.
For too long I was focusing on loss, loss of my mom and loss of who I was before her illness and death. I had closed off a part of myself but didn’t open a door to anything new. I needed to create new traditions for Christmas and see the season with new eyes. Reinventing yourself or your meaning of the holiday season can happen at any time, in little ways. It doesn’t have to be enormous to be effective. I am so blessed to have my amazing husband and son to be with and share the season.
Retraining yourself out of a pattern of behavior is tough so I have created a go-to list to read as many times as needed to keep me on track with my true desires for the holidays:
This year I am committed to taking Christmas out of my head and putting it into my body (my feelings) and using my internal guidance system (my emotions). I have to remember to trust myself. I need to rely on what FEELS right. Racing around exhausted from my to-do list doesn’t feel right. I can easily make adjustments to my lifestyle during the holiday season to slow down and savor the moments, instead of speed up until I crack.
This Christmas I commit to be present. I will be present to enjoy the sensory extravaganza that is going on around me. The beauty of Christmas gets lost for so many of us when we get wrapped up in the commercially-induced stresses of the season. Our greatest memories are our shared experiences, not keeping score of gifts.
I commit to bring Christmas back to the senses. I will slow down to see all of the decorations, lights, and beautiful displays in homes, stores and places of worship. I will enjoy the fires roaring in the fireplace and acknowledge the beauty of the snow falling outside. I will hear the magnificent Christmas music that can alter my mood from the very first note. I will take time to smell the wonderful scents of the season: pine, gingerbread, cider and fresh baked cookies. I look forward to experiencing the textures of fine linen, crystal glasses etched to perfection and brand new beeswax candles to be used at the dinner table. Quite possibly my favorite, I intend to taste all of the wonderful foods of the season: spiced bread pudding, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon ice cream (I commit to eating more than just desserts, I promise).
I commit to have fun this Christmas, to lighten up and not take the day or myself so seriously. As a mother I have a hard time imagining doing less and enjoying more. It is possible and can be done. It will take discipline on my part to distinguish between what needs to get done, what should get done and what would be nice if it got done. I try to do it all and in all of the doing, I suck the fun out of the whole experience. I commit to change my ways, do less and focus on fun.
I commit to see Christmas through the eyes of my son. It is an enormous gift to experience the holiday from his perspective. I have a front row seat to all of his delight and complete belief in the magic of the season. He is my perpetual lesson in absolute faith in our own perfection.
I commit to expanding the human connection this Christmas. I commit to emphasize experience over items. Baking cookies with my son is one of the best ways I can spend an afternoon. I also commit to helping people in need. Volunteering for even a small amount of time is a wonderful way to cultivate gratitude any time of the year. In our techno world, we may be good at keeping in touch with our two hundred closest friends but we can miss the quiet opportunities to connect with those closest to us and connect with ourselves. Christmas is a way to return to the most precious gifts in life that we already possess.
This Christmas I make a commitment to see beauty and God in everything and practice acceptance. I see God in the decorations, the snow, the faces of those in need as well as the faces of those that run me over with their shopping cart.
In my joy this holiday season and all in the future, my mother will live on and smile seeing me happy.
I wish you an amazing, JOY filled holiday season.