Find Holiday Joy: 9 Useful Habits / by Amy DeRosia

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CC by Juskteez Vu

Merry Christmas-Eve to those celebrating! I've never been much of a "Christmas person" which is practically a sin in Louisiana. Never receiving another Hallmark card or watching a holiday commercial again would be fine with me. The list below is as much a reminder to me as anyone else.

Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer.... Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?
— Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes

The American "culture of Christmas" is pretty underwhelming...cheesy and consumerist. Everyone seems stressed out, angry, or lonely.  All of this is totally understandable. But, the way we respond doesn't always serve us well

There are wonderful things about the Christmas season: lots of parties, good food, and gift giving. But, we can be stretched so thin. We have to remember to take care of ourselves.

This is a wonderful time to learn how to intentionally choose to be joyful. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make solitude a priority. We have more patience for others when we're taking care of ourselves. Relax and recharge. Curl up in a blanket and drink some tea. Spend time in nature. Listen to the birds. Go for a walk. 
  • Forgive. We can apologize and let old issues go. Making peace gives us the opportunity to feel connection and love during the holidays. This is one of the most important gifts we can give each other.
  • Enjoy your relationships with family and friends...especially with your elderly relatives. You never know how many more holidays you have together.

Or you might be like me, celebrating a first Christmas with someone. I became an aunt yesterday! I'm overwhelmed by the amount of joy I feel about this little person in my life already.

  • Create your own meaningful rituals. Light a candle. Reflect on the past year. Dream about the future.

Find some holiday music you can tolerate. Listen to those songs every year. I like Charlie Brown Christmas, Jazz, and the N'Sync Christmas album (don't judge).

  • Honor your heritage. Have reverence for traditions, but change the ones not working for you anymore. Let the things you love about the holidays be significant.  
  • Make space for wonder and awe. Stargaze. Light a fire in the fireplace. These moments keep us happy and grounded.
  • Be proactive. If you're experiencing some loneliness or sadness this season, be honest with yourself about what you need and make it happen. Say yes to invitations. Reach out. Call a friend; bake some cookies; or take a bubble bath.

There are a lot of "shoulds" around the holidays. Don't buy into it. You're fine. Next year will be better.

  • Serve others. Giving of ourselves helps us feel useful and notice the blessings in our lives. Volunteer your time. Buy gifts for a family who can't afford them. At the least, choose to be kind to people.
My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?
— Bob Hope

Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. This year, I hope you enjoy all of the good things around you with a full heart. 

 

How do you stay joyful during the holiday season? and/or What are you grateful for this year? Let me know in the comments.