This time of year is wonderful. It is a time of giving, a time with family and friends, and an overwhelming feeling of helping others. All of these things are why I value and am very grateful for this time of year. However, as I look around and talk to others there is one thing that I also pick up on…stress. People frantic about whether they got the right gift for someone, got enough gifts, decorated in time, bought enough food and even what they will wear to their Christmas party. It seems the holidays have taken on the persona we apply to the rest of our lives and the world- how do we do it bigger and better? It has become a time of out giving others, out decorating others, looking better than others, and eating more than our physical limits. While I will happily acknowledge that this isn’t true for everyone, it is for many and seems to be getting worse. In most cases people can answer yes to these questions…
Have you had that moment where you feel guilty because the gift you gave wasn’t as good as the one you received?
Have you worried about who will give a gift to you and you didn’t think to give to them?
Have you sat and looked at the gifts for your kids and felt guilt that you couldn’t get them the gift they wanted this year and had to settle for a cheaper version?
These feelings and thoughts take out the joy of giving. The excitement in seeing someone open a gift with pure joy in the act is replaced by anxiety of the repercussions. I would happily go into a conversation about how materialism has ruined the purpose of Christmas but that is an age-old debate that I will leave that to individual preference. The main thing I would like to encourage us to do differently is address the holiday with a calm and grateful presence, versus a race to see how to do more than we can. In a time when people don’t have the time or money to make every holiday a grand event, how can we do it simply? How do we get back to it being a time of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation? Although you can’t change everyone, you can make the choice to approach the events of the next two days to be ones of peace instead of hectic rushing. Here are some tips to feel calmer through the day you worked so hard for:
Allow yourself to find the joy in giving– Let go of any concerns around what the gift is, or what the person will think. Acknowledge that you have done what you can and give with joy. Should there be some disappointment in the gift you are giving from the receiver, know that experience is their lesson to be learned in gratitude, versus yours in what to give next time.
Choose to be peaceful– This is simple, don’t rush. Enjoy the moment and don’t worry about where you need to be when. Trust you are exactly where you need to be and rushing through the holiday takes out your joy in it. Too often people don’t even remember what the day brought because they were so busy.
Ask for help– If the events are held at your house do not hesitate to ask for help in cooking, money toward to food, cleaning up and entertaining. You should enjoy the holiday as much as everyone else- do not forget that.
Enjoy receiving– For some reason this is hard for many people. We are more obsessed with what we are giving that we don’t fully enjoy the moment of receiving a gift. Allow the other person to see the joy and excitement you have. Don’t rush through the opening and move on to the next. Allow the gratitude to surface and fully be expressed before moving on.
Respect your body– The after holiday guilt is more than most of us can handle or deserve. Give yourself the gift of enjoying the wonderful food in moderation and listen when it is done. Decide before the party what sweets you will indulge in and minimize carbs and sugars throughout the rest of your meals. Take a walk with family or play in the snow (depending on climate). Tired? Take a nap! Allow the holiday to be a time when you give yourself the priceless gift of self-care.
Merry Christmas to everyone! May this be a peaceful and restful holiday for you!