If your goal is to relish each moment this time of year, then read on. These tips are intended to help you navigate the holiday season with a greater level of awareness. When we are peacefully present, isn’t that the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and to our loved ones?
Identify your intention.
Getting clear on what is important for you to feel, do, or experience this holiday season is crucial if you aren’t content to just go through the motions. When you are clear on your intention, you can align your actions with that intention. This means that if it isn’t your intention to travel to see out-of-town relatives because it is too much for your family, you will be able to say, “Thank you for the kind invitation; however, we are unable to travel this year.” As with anything, if you don’t set an intention, it’s easier to be pressured or pushed into doing something that you don’t want to do.
Schedule the top things.
Avoid over-scheduling by deciding on the important things versus the busy obligations that you don’t have time for. What are the top three things that you want to happen during the holidays? Fill in the gaps after you’ve scheduled those things- and remember to schedule yourself downtime!
Embody love at family gatherings.
Do you really want to argue about politics or come together just to criticize one another? The holidays are not the time to deal with difficult and heated family topics. Focus on the person; not the issue. Speak with love. Spread love. Be love. It will make your life much easier.
If others aren’t choosing to communicate in the same way, remind yourself of your intention, offer them a silent blessing, excuse yourself and go on a walk, do whatever you have to do. Be a blessing and be kind. It may be difficult, but the gift in this is that sometimes our relatives can be our greatest teachers. They give us the opportunity to practice extraordinary patience and grace. And wouldn’t you like the same favor in return?
Get your needs met.
It’s the season of giving, but how many of us feel burdened by the giving because we’re already giving so much to bosses, spouses, kids, neighbors, church, our community?
How can you get your needs met this time of year? Cut the gifts down if you have to, simplify menus, skip the Christmas event that isn’t a priority, but don’t compromise when it comes to your must haves.
Instill others in your plan if necessary. For instance, if what you need is a long phone call with a friend that listens unconditionally, let her know that. Point being, you will feel much better about giving when you are giving yourself the gift of ensuring your needs are being met.
Give what you can and what you’re happy to do… and no more.
If you’re wondering if your gift is good enough or if it will be as nice as what Susie gives, chances are it’s time to take an honest assessment of what you’re about to do. Ask yourself questions. Examine your feelings and consider your budget. Whatever is not rooted in joy, isn’t a pure gift. Remind yourself that this is not the time of year to overdo. It will leave you- and your bank account- feeling depleted. Give what feels right for you, wrap up your gift, and be done with it.
Do something spontaneous.
With all the obligations that quickly fill up the calendar, there’s no better way to live in the moment than to do something spontaneous. If your schedule is jam-packed, you won’t have time for breaks or last minute adventures. Maybe one night your family gets the urge to hope in the car in your pajamas and drive around to look at Christmas lights. Those fun, spontaneous moments might be the ones you remember the most- so make room for them!
Allow yourself to feel however you need to feel.
Part of the key to remaining peacefully present is to allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up for you this time of year. If you keep yourself busy because you’re trying not to face the fact that you really aren’t feeling so holly jolly, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or going through a difficult time, give yourself permission to grieve and seek support to make it through the holidays. To be present and fully alive, we must allow ourselves to feel whatever those feelings may be.
Embrace the imperfect.
If your Christmas packages are without bows or your Christmas card photo is less than stellar- or if you decided not to send a card at all this year- you’re just keeping it real. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.
When we strive for over-the-top, or an it-all-looks-great-from-the-outside fantasy, we bring unnecessary stress into our lives. Plus, I find that when we realize our crinkled shirt does look…well, crinkled in the Christmas card photo we come back down to earth a little. Bottom line, let’s just all embrace the fact that we aren’t perfect, even the aforementioned Susie who had her decorations out the day after Thanksgiving.
Be full of joy.
Just as you must give yourself permission to grieve, it is just as acceptable to be full of joy. When we allow the true meaning of Christmas to guide our hearts, we are filled with heavenly joy. Do you keep the real reason we celebrate at the forefront? Have you reflected on your blessings? Do you look forward to a special Christmas event that gets you excited? Relive the joy that came into this world in the form of a tiny baby long ago. When you connect with the significance of the season, it will enable you to cherish each moment.
Bless others when they least expect it.
We all have our gift lists. Who could use a special blessing, whether he/she is on your list or not? It could be a hug, a smile and friendly hello to a stranger, or a food donation. When you meet a need for someone that is unexpected, you are fully in the moment and focused on that person. Perhaps you will never know what a difference it will make for them this Christmas.
Let us all commit to coming together in peace this holiday season. May we cherish the moments and memories we make.
Whatever you might be going through, let not your hearts be troubled. The birth of Jesus brought hope and joy to the world. Peace to you this Christmas.