If you said crazy, stressful, @$# – up, horrible, or over scheduled, you might be a modern American. Or you just got brainwashed by advertising into acting like one. Think about how many messages we receive during this time of the year that are all about buying things, getting things, you should be having fun, and do more! No one in their right mind would put up with this, but we’ve had years of going right straight out of our minds for Christmas.
So what to do? How do we rescue ourselves and make a few good memories while we’re at it?
Decide what Christmas means to you. Close your eyes and think of your favorite smell from Christmas, or even a smell you wished was part of your holiday. It’s probably not the mall and it’s not plastic. Most people who get asked this question will tell you cookies, fir trees, cinnamon, warm kitchens and family dinners. Smell will often connect to your emotions and memories better than your other senses. So instead of having a long discussion about religion vs secular traditions; Follow your nose. There’s a toucan out there who says it always knows.
Once you’ve decided on your favorite smells, write something about each. Incense in church and the peace of lighting a candle. Cinnamon red-hots melting into a pot of hot cider your mother is stirring. Turkey and gravy dinner that you serve at a local homeless shelter and everyone in the kitchen is laughing. These will be real memories and plenty of happy imaginings. If you came from an abusive or alcoholic family, try thinking of your favorite Christmas movie and what scene you wanted to live from it. Try to capture each of these wishes in one or two sentences and then add on a sentence about how you want to feel. I’m smiling and I can’t stop. I’ve laughed so hard my stomach hurts.
Now look over your Christmas activities and ditch at least two events that don’t match up to anything on your list. This is usually stressful at first. Take deep breaths and remember it gets better once you actually have given yourself time to breath. After that, look at your entire holiday season in the light of the following rules.
- We remember experiences more than things.
- People are more important than places.
- There is no perfect gift.
- If you’re a Christian, you already got the one perfect gift and so did everybody else on your list. Stop trying to top it.
- You will enjoy and remember the activities that you do slowly. Speed is the enemy of Christmas joy. (Unless you’re skiing).
- Be happier about what you give than what you get. When you focus on positives you create, you will always feel better.
- Your children don’t want all the things you never got for Christmas.
- Create memories, they last longer than action figures.
- Feeding everyone you know more sugar and carbs in a day than they usually eat in a week will end badly. Space out the treats, go easy on the alcohol, savor each bite slowly.
- Expect some whining from your children and go ahead with less stuff and more activities together. Later on, they won’t remember how they whined and they’ll tell everyone what fun it was.
Slow down, take deep breaths, and for the love of Santa Claus, remember to make this something you actually enjoy!
Merry Christmas and best wishes for your new year.
Photo by bootload flickr feed