I grew up in a family that was really big on celebrating Christmas and all the other important holidays. My mom would decorate the house, have huge family dinner parties, etc. Now I’m in my 30’s with a four-year-old daughter, a full-time job and, I don’t like to admit it…I hate this time of year! It’s become so commercial and just overwhelming. I want to find a way to bring the spiritual back to this season. Do you have any suggestions?
Dear Joanne T.
I think you’re asking a question that a lot of us have during this time of year, whichever holiday you celebrate. I know I’ve been inundated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads for the past several weeks. Ugh!
Comedian Dave Barry observed, “Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” It’s sad that it’s become like this, isn’t it?
Here are some of my suggestions for making holidays fun AND spiritual:
Create Some Holiday Rituals
With a young child in the family, it’s important to create some family traditions. Think back on your own family and remember what was pleasurable and enjoyable for you. How could you incorporate your own version of this within your current family? In my family we had a tradition of driving around our little town after dinners in December and checking out the holiday lights and decorations. We also made homemade eggnog and my mom and I made cookies together. My neighbors gathered to sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home. Is there a holiday story that would be fun to read with your daughter? Perhaps some volunteer work you could participate in? Holiday songs that you could sing? I have a list of Pandora holiday music in another section of this newsletter. I like the “peaceful-holiday” station http://www.pandora.com/music/holiday/peaceful-holidays
Connect With Friends
Taking time for close friends and family members is part of what the holidays are all about. How can you share your love and caring in a way that’s soul satisfying for you? You may not want to throw big dinner parties like your mother did. But would meeting with a friend to share a cup of tea or a hot cocoa feel good to you? Or, how about taking the time to call someone you care about to catch up on each other’s lives. Staying connected and sharing joy is an important component to being happy at any time of year, but especially around the holidays.
Be a “Holiday Angel”
I once worked at a company where we had the tradition of holiday angels. It was a unique and delightful practice! We chose a name of a fellow employee out of a basket that was passed around. Our task, as the angel, was to do anonymous kind things for the person throughout the month of December. Even if you don’t want to implement this at your own office, consider trying it with a friend, a neighbor or family member. You might bring them their favorite morning beverage, leave a small bouquet of flowers, send a card with an inspirational quote, or shovel the snow off their car. You get the idea! The fun thing about our office tradition is that both the giver and receiver benefited and the good spirit it generated continued throughout the year.
Notice Moments of Sweetness and Joy
There are so many little nuggets of joy to savor in the day at any time of the year. Notice the beauty around you. The small kindnesses that people do for each other. The smile you received from (or gave to) a stranger on the street. Perhaps you noticed how the snow, or breeze, felt on your skin. Or you watched the wind whip through some tall trees. Or you lingered over the holiday music you heard at a street corner. Make it a practice to notice those small wonders and breathe them in.
Take Mini-Breaks for Life Balance
While this is good advice at any time of year, it’s especially important during the holidays. Consider making time for prayer and meditation a priority. Light a candle. Put on some relaxing music. You don’t have to DO anything. Just give yourself permission to simply sit and soak in love, wonder, joy and grace. God speaks to us during these times of silence. However, we need to make time to nurture this relationship just as we would any human bond we want to cultivate. If a half-hour of downtime feels too overwhelming, consider mini-breaks throughout your day. Step outside for a few moments at your office. Take a brisk walk at lunch or snuggle with your daughter when you get home. Do whatever brings you back to your center.
Joanne, may your holiday be jolly and bright!