The holiday season isn’t always filled with the joyous visions media presents. There are multiple stresses in getting to places, getting into lines, getting dinners or desserts, getting out invitations and cards, and just getting through. Here are some happy, helpful ideas to pack for everyday and every holiday season.
Don’t let the Scrooges and Grinches get you down. ‘Tis is the season for lines and lines and lines. People are rushing around not realizing how their scattered energies are affecting the people in their proximity. They cut you off in traffic. They tap their feet loudly, huff and puff in the checkout lanes. Before you go out, remember this, and don’t get caught up in their storms and their wacky schedules. Hold your balance and keep your cool. If you’re cursing and shouting or grumping loudly too, you’re spreading that holiday unhappy! Hold a song in your head to sing out the negative vibes. Make it one that makes you smile, laugh, and power you through. (It doesn’t have to be nice song either!) If you have the time, let them go ahead of you. That’s a gift to you and them!
And if you’re the one behind schedule, accept it and relax. You’ll get where you need to be in the time you were meant to be there. If that’s an idea you can’t adopt, build in extra buffer and “unexpected issues” time. Give yourself the time to relax, and keep ahead of the schedule. Lighten up your schedule, too. Though we all wish we could do everything, it isn’t possible. The power of saying “no” is one of the greatest stress relievers! Give yourself time to be jolly. Choose one to two events per week to attend. Make it a point to send a kind note or set up a coffee for those you want a moment with, just out of the holiday time frame. Everyday can be a holiday!
Choosing to make everyday a holiday, every moment we share with loved ones is special, and specific dates don’t matter. As my children have gotten older, and they begin their families, I’ve already told them we’ll celebrate on off holidays, starting new traditions. I remember the stresses of traveling with three little kids to different houses in different states to accommodate each family. Sometimes this made holidays seem like horror-days, especially if planes were cancelled and traveling delays became issues. Days are as special as we make them. Can you be flexible and adopt new paths where everyone can enjoy every part of the holiday?
There are so many variables that can affect your plans. Allow them to happen as they will. Keep your focus on the joy of the gathering, no matter how different it is from your expectations. Let those go. Expect to be happy and joyous. Those are expectations worth keeping.
Be a present by living in the present. Take the time to really see and hear everyone around you. Close your eyes and just listen. Listen to the sounds of the family conversations, the laughter. Feel the hugs and give the hugs. Send your love through those hugs. Tuck these memories into your heart. Write them in a gratitude journal. Photograph that page and use it as your screen saver. Keep these moments alive. They’re a source of joy through challenging times.
Family gatherings can create challenging times. We all know family members who get something through publicly embarrassing or rehashing the past. Now is the time to pack something different for this yearly encounter – a new attitude. Use your heart shield and deflect unkind words without confrontation. Consider what motivates these actions. Is this all they have in common with you? Share something to replace that played out album. Do they need to feel superior to you? Then open the gift of empathy, because they’re feeling small. It’s in them, not you. Quietly send them healing thoughts. Think of how awful it must feel to live this way, especially during a time noted for joy. If you’ve given all the gifts in your bag, have an exit strategy, one that leaves you with a smile. Don’t give away your joy. It’s your holiday too, and you deserve to enjoy them with people you enjoy, and who enjoy you.
Remember those in your circle of friends without family or struggling. Of all the items to keep on your to-do list, reach out to let them know they’re seen, heard and loved. Time is a beautiful gift to give. Listen to make sure they’re okay. Reach out to those missing loved ones. As survivors, we know all to well the friends and family we’re missing. If they connect, encourage them to share their favorite story or holiday memory. Releasing some tears on your loving shoulder could be the perfect gift.
Patience. Presence. Flexibility. Compassion. All are invaluable gifts for every season, for everyday.
Use them. Give them. Share them.
Wishing you the infinite joys that everyday can bring!