“The Holidays” – it’s a term that can excite, entice, overwhelm, and create so many conflicting feelings in one small, two-word phrase. Sometimes we cannot wait for a holiday; decorating, making plans and preparations, shopping for special items or treats, or getting excited to travel. Other times we might be overwhelmed by these same tasks or even struggling with grief, lack, fatigue, the fear of missing out or of not having as much fun as everyone else seems to be having.
So how do we reclaim more of the joy and meaning and say, “No Thanks!” to some of the extra stress?
By approaching our holiday celebrations and experiences through the lenses of our hearts, instead of any other point of view, we can trim the excess and focus on what truly matters to us and our loved ones. To get started with your own wholehearted holiday preparations, join those of us from Wholehearted Hub, in asking the questions below.
1. What is my purpose in celebrating this holiday?
This might sound a little obvious or sassy, but the basic premise here is VERY important. What is your actual purpose in celebrating your holiday?
Is your purpose to make memories? To laugh? To be somber and remember? To celebrate abundance or joy? To honor a spiritual or cultural tradition? To reminisce?
Everyone’s answers will be unique to them and there is no right or wrong answer. The purpose here is to clarify what we are doing and what the goal is, in order to simplify and joyfully say, “Yes!” to what matters and, “No Thanks!” to everything that doesn’t.
If the goal is to gather our family and enjoy time together, maybe something like a meal that takes five days to prepare isn’t so important, but what we do together (game, movie, activity, etc.), IS the important part. Everyone is different, choose what matters most to you.
2. What traditions would be missed and which ones wouldn’t?
Sometimes we do things simply because we’ve always done them and less because they are relevant and meaningful to us now. Take some time to ask yourself and possibly your family members too, what parts of our celebrations do we look forward to and which ones do we dread, or at the very least, don’t find meaning in? It’s valuable to maintain tradition, and it’s also valuable to change things up and create new memories and traditions too.
3. What type of celebration fits us now?
As life changes, so do the people in it. Would it be easier on parents with small children if the family came to them or if someone else brought the food, or if older members of the family were visited in smaller groups to enjoy more conversation throughout the whole weekend of the holiday? If we are single or living in a new city, are there any community meals going on, or any friends or co-workers that could all use a place to gather? Everyone has needs and it is OK to advocate for what we need, and also to advocate for others within our family or friend group.
4. How can we make our holiday as focused on the purpose as possible?
Now is the time to let go of the “extras” that don’t serve us and to celebrate what does. Alongside all of the regular challenges of life, the last two years or so have come with added pressures. It is OK to focus on the most important parts and to trim out the excess.
If baking is someone’s love language, maybe the pies DO get made from scratch, but if it isn’t, maybe they are picked up at the store. If decorations fill the soul with joy, then go for it! If decorating feels like punishment, do the minimum instead of the maximum.
Focusing on the important parts is an act of love for both self & others.
5. Take time to meet your own needs and take time to contribute - there is room for both.
It is our own job to meet our own needs. This can sound or look selfish, or even sad at first glance, but it is true. As adults, we are responsible for advocating for ourselves and for meeting our own needs. At the same time, we know that contributing to our communities and loved ones makes us feel great and makes the world a better place too.
This holiday season, don’t choose, make time and space for both. This can be as small as carrying small bills or spare change for the donation kettles at stores or as large as some volunteer work. Meeting our own needs can be as small as streaming our favorite music or as large as enjoying a nap or special treat just for us.
Through both caring for our own needs and focusing on others, we both give and receive the best of both worlds, as we prepare to celebrate the holiday seasons with joy.
So remember, as we are getting ready to celebrate whichever holidays are meaningful to us this season, let’s look through the lenses of our hearts, and let them guide our way.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the best,