I love so many things about them- the smell of cinnamon and cloves, the lights, the singing and sounds, the parties and gatherings.
For me as a Christian at heart- I love Jesus. I love remembering his life and how he taught to love and question anything that went against the principle of love.
Reading the Christmas story on Christmas eve around a fire and remembering the absolute miracles that unfolded that evening so long ago.
I love it all….
And yet for many, many, years I found myself overwhelmed, exhausted, and concerned that I wouldn’t get “it right”.
I hear so many people state that Christmas is a time of stress- and that the holidays bring up a whole lot of emotional grieving and pain.
Today I would like to explore this, dismantle it, and perhaps help all of us step into a place of seeing the errors of our perception around the Holidays.
Is it possible to move through this time with flow and ease? Is it possible to meet those strong emotions with compassion and love?
It is my friends…
Not only is it possible- but isn’t that the whole point of the season?
At the core of this season is connection.
Connecting to loved ones and remembering the joy that they bring into our lives.
Giving to those that we love so that they know that they are remembered and valued and thought of on a regular basis.
So how has this time of beauty morphed into a time of pain?
I believe it comes down to a few different things.
Disconnection, expectations, and comparison.
They all intertwine and kind of go hand in hand.
We have been conditioned from the external world that it needs to look a certain way. To be a good parent, friend, or neighbor- we must give a thoughtful and expensive gift that is wrapped in an elegant box and tied with a perfectly placed bow.
Our children need to run into the room on Christmas morning to an elaborate set up of lavish gifts that are strewn across the floor in anticipation of the squeals of delight.
In addition to our kids we must give gifts to each co-worker, neighbor, sibling, parent, friend- and we mustn’t forget anyone! And we get extra credit if neighbor gifts are handmade or purchase name brand items for our children!
We need to present at every Christmas party, recital, play, nativity scene.
We have to ensure that every tradition is adhered to and that we do everything the way it has always been done in the past.
Annual Christmas cards to every person in our lives- we must do that as well.
Oh and don’t forget… matching Christmas pajamas must be purchased and photos must be taken….
And by doing all of these things we will know we are doing okay. We will know we have value and worth and we are getting this thing called life right.
At the core of getting caught up in the madness is our desire to be worthy and good enough.
What would it mean if we didn’t give neighbor gifts this year?
How would we interpret that?
Would we exhale a big sigh of relief or would we tense up and worry about what they would think?
Could we let go of Christmas cards and find a different way to reach out?
If we are on a different budget for the year- would it be okay to allow our children to learn that this time of year is about connection and love instead of the gifts? Is it possible that this very lesson might be one of their greatest memories- when mom and dad thought outside of the box to create a beautiful memory instead of a bunch of presents?
Is it okay to let go of the worry that your family’s Christmas may look different than your neighbors? That your kids may come home from school and express frustration over the fact that they didn’t get as many “things” as their friends? And could that be a beautiful learning lesson that our happiness doesn’t rely on the things but the relationships?
We have disconnected to ourselves in the process of “getting the holidays right”. We have been duped into thinking that this holiday needs to represent a hallmark movie instead of a sacred space where we meet in the quiet of the dark and remember who we are.
So the first thing is reconnecting with ourselves.
What do we truly love and enjoy during this time?
Write a list and then look over it and feel into your heart space as to what feels right and what feels heavy or stressful.
Let the items that light your fire to be starred or highlighted and ensure that you experience those items this year.
For the items that seem to restrict your body as you read them- is it possible to cross them off your list this year?
Ask yourself that question a few times.
Can I show up for myself and honor my feelings by letting this thing go?
How would it feel to know that I don’t “have to” do this custom or tradition this year?
Would that feel amazing? Would that feel light?
Can I love myself through crossing that item off and realize that I was creating my own stress by hanging onto it?
And it always comes down to loving yourself.
Creating a picture perfect holiday season is really about you and not really about your loved ones.
Did I just trigger you by saying that?
Think about that statement again.
Making sure that you get it right is about you- not about the people you serve and love.
Think about it for a minute. If you have a toddler- more often than not they are playing with the box that the gift came in rather than the toy itself.
The fancy motorized car for your kid may also be about you being seen by your neighbors as an incredible parent that gets the best for your kids. Within a few weeks- that motorized car will be forgotten and will take up space in your garage.
The Christmas card will be placed in the garbage.
The homemade gifts will be put in the corner of the kitchen with an overload of sugar that no family can actually eat before they go bad.
Is it possible to connect without the hustle and grind?
Could we relax into the reason for the season and love ourselves through the fact that we can simply “be” and still get it right?
Relax as you go through that list- I invite you to cross off as many things as you can. You may only start with one thing this year- and that is okay.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that the winter solstice aligns with the Holidays. It is a time to go within and reflect on what isn’t serving you anymore. It is a time to get close to the things that matter most.
Learning to flow through the holidays allows all of us to perceive this time differently and to envelope ourselves with love. That love comes from us first and then flows outward.
So betraying our needs by overtaxing ourselves is going against that love.
What about those that find this time emotionally triggering? What about our lost loved ones? What about those that feel lonely and don’t feel like others care about them?
Going through the dark solstice also means allowing ourselves to feel. We only feel grief because we felt love. Is it okay to feel grief and sit with it for a while?
This holiday I am experiencing one of my children that has chosen to disconnect themselves from me. I have become the villain in their story and they won’t be sharing the holidays with me this year.
I am feeling the grief and loss from that decision, but I am also celebrating the fact that I only get to experience the grief because I love that person. They are meaningful to me and I have so many beautiful memories of them and my grandchildren and their amazing wife.
So I am celebrating that.
And….I am feeling the grief that accompanies it and letting it flow through me as I surrender to the experience instead of resisting what is.
And rather than place meaning on the story or placing shame on myself over my role in that story- I can step away from the situation and realize that I can provide the love for myself while this individual gets to learn the lessons from his journey.
I am surrendering to the process and trusting that it is going to unfold in the exact manner it needs to be.
I am sending him and his family love and realizing that this is the best thing I can do.
And isn’t that what Jesus taught? Isnt’ that the reason for the season?
Can we connect to ourselves and therefore truly gain all that we have the opportunity to gain during this time of the year?
I not only believe we can- I know we can.
I invite you to try this hat on and see how it looks.
I would love to hear your thoughts and the results from letting go, reconnecting and not comparing in pursuit of something greater and more.
Happy holidays my friends. I pray that you will find joy, peace, comfort, and connection.