Stay in a Place of CHOICE

My advice for the holidays? Stay in a place of CHOICE. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love the traditions. I love the decorating, the shopping, the baking, the caroling, the parties, the fa-la-la and the ho! ho! ho! However, as the excitement builds and Christmas approaches, all of the holiday cheer can give way to a serious case of the bah humbugs. If I’m not mindful, I can lose my “Joy to the World,” my “Peace on Earth” and certainly my “Goodwill towards Men.”

With the gratitude of Thanksgiving still echoing in my heart, I set an intention…and make a commitment… to spending December in a place of CHOICE. That means all things are optional. 

This is a strategy that I happened upon accidentally. It was a lesson learned, as many are, the hard way. You see I used to be a plain and simple traditional holiday gal. I loved all of the holiday traditions. More than that, I needed the traditions. I had a long list of must-dos and must-haves. Christmas decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving and came down on New Year’s Day. No exceptions. Christmas cookies meant the iced sugar cookies and pumpkin rolls. All lined up in the freezer and enough to gift the hairdresser. No exceptions. Christmas cards sent no later than December 10th. With photo. Personal written note if we haven’t talked. No exceptions. Gifts beyond my budget, wrapped with ribbons and candy canes and organized with time to spare. The list continued endlessly until I found myself half-sick and nursing a whopping cold sore on Christmas Day….Grinch-y!

The idea here is that I was bound by my own holiday rules. I was clinging to my expectations. And I gave the holiday traditions power over my own health and mental well-being. So how did I change my perspective? I got hit with the wake-up-stick! 

My marriage fell apart. My kids were quite young. So young in fact that it made me want all of the holiday traditions…all of the traditions that I loved from my childhood. Except that, in the tug and pull of divorce, the traditions unraveled. The expectations could not be met. The way I wanted it to be was neither likely nor possible. Some holidays I could piece together an attempt, but some holidays I was alone with the pain of the change. The choice was clear: either re-write my story on the holidays or be miserable. I chose to re-write my story. 

The first thing I did was clarify my values. Spending quality time with my children and parents became the priority. It doesn’t matter if the lovely family dinner is on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or an average Tuesday. What matters is that we are together with love and laughter. 

Everything beyond the quality time with family is a CHOICE. Christmas cards are a choice. Send them or not. Most often I send them after Christmas. Sometimes there is a picture included. 

Christmas cookies are a choice. I make them or I buy them or I skip them. I never go without them. They seem to show up. Probably from the visions of sugar plums that dance in my head!

Gifts are a choice. I make a heartfelt list. Except for the family, the list is a little different every year depending on the year’s experiences and situations. Sometimes I make gifts instead of purchasing. And I stay within budget. (BTW, a card with a hand written message of gratitude and love makes a great gift.)

Parties are a choice. And I usually stay in ‘maybe’ until the day before. My friends understand. And they understand when I scoot out early to get a good night’s sleep…gotta feel fresh to teach Sunday 8:00AM Power Yoga!

Decorating is a variety of choices. This year: stockings, mistletoe and candles, yes.  I’ve cut some pine boughs to lay across the mantel and to accent the centerpieces on the tables. No tree. Well, if the kids want one when they come home….okay, maybe a tree. 

The point is: I have learned that my Christmas is much merrier when I loosen my grip on the expectations and holiday traditions. I now look at every holiday activity from a place of CHOICE. There is always an option. I’m okay going ‘yes’ and I’m okay deciding ‘no.’ As long as I stay aligned with my core value and share quality time with family, I am satisfied and heart happy. No cold sore required. 

There you have it! My advice for a happy holiday season! 
Merry Christmas to all and to all a NAMASTE!!!