We make things a lot harder than they have to be during the holidays. All of the hustling and bustling, the rushing and the buying, the wrapping and the baking- it’s a lot of work. All of the work creates stress, short tempers and sleepless nights. It’s obvious the holidays aren’t as happy as they could be. But, we can make the holidays truly happy. We just have to do things different than we have done them in the past. We have to think outside the box if we are going to put the “Happy” back in the Holidays.
One of the things that makes the holidays less happy than they could be is what I call Holiday Dilemmas. One holiday dilemma comes to mind when we throw a party. If you are the hostess, you have the “Who to invite” dilemma. Some people are invited because they are truly good friends and others are invited out of obligation. For instance, if you invite one person, you have to invite this other person because if the second one finds out about the party and they weren’t invited, they will be angry. We don’t want people to be angry at us for any reason – especially not during the holidays. You can see how a simple party gets stressful right out of the gate just by making the list of attendees. We are trying to get it just right.
The “Who do we buy for” dilemma is all about making the gift list. We don’t want to leave anyone out lest they feel slighted by us or think we don’t love them. This list is easy to make in the beginning, but gets more difficult as we review all of our connections to make certain we don’t forget a co-worker, a neighbor or a relative. This list is often longer in the end than we originally anticipated. And with each name comes an increase in an already stretched budget.
Next, we have the “What to buy” dilemma. This dilemma comes up for a number of reasons. It may be that we want to make certain our gift is “the perfect gift” or “reaction worthy” which takes a lot of thought and shopping time or perhaps we need to buy a gift for someone out of obligation. Without that special connection, though, it is tough to know what to buy for them. This is the person who gets the boxed set of soaps or a candle. We also stress over a gift because we want to buy someone at least as much as they are buying us. We don’t want to exchange gifts and have ours be smaller and noticeably less expensive, so we play the game of guessing how much we think they are spending on us so we can spend about the same amount of money on them. Silly, isn’t it.
Our biggest dilemma of all is that we are caught up in materialism and perfection. Both make us miserable, but we keep doing the same thing year after year. It’s obvious we aren’t truly happy during the holidays. Instead of sitting around the tree drinking eggnog, laughing and enjoying each other, we stand in long lines buying things and fill our calendar to the brim with functions and events to attend. The holidays are super busy, stressful and expensive. But, they don’t have to be. Maybe we could incorporate more peace and relaxation into the holidays making them happier than ever. We can rewrite our holiday story so it keeps traditions, but loses the stress and dilemmas. We have the power to do anything we want to do.
Rewriting Your Holiday Story
I love wrapping gifts. It can be an expensive and time consuming venture though so I decided a number of years ago to let go of the perfectly wrapped gift fa‚àö√üade. Now I buy nice paper on sale and wired ribbon and I wrap each gift in under one minute. The wired ribbon is fabulous for making a statement on a package without the need of special bow tying skills, of which I have none. I also drastically slashed my gift list. I buy only for my immediate family now and even that has been cut back in terms of the amount of money I spend each year. None of the changes I have made to improve my happiness during the holidays have ruined them in the least. I still get compliments on my gift wrapping and no one seems to miss the pile of gifts at their feet. We spend more time with each other than with the gifts. In fact, the holidays seem easier now in every way and easier means they are much more enjoyable.
I believe we can cut back our preparation time without sacrificing quality and tradition. We just have to be willing to make changes that give us freedom from stress, financial woes and materialism. Let’s start by getting rid of perfection as a goal for the holidays. Nothing is perfect except love and all forms of love, like kindness, compassion, understanding, acceptance and peace. Anyone who judges you harshly for one burned cookie batch can go somewhere else next year.
Let’s also get rid of buying loads of gifts whether it’s for one person or the sum total of everyone on your list. The holidays are an expensive endeavor. Imagine what you could do with the money you save if you cut your holiday budget in half. Finally, what if we made it our goal to spend at least one hour a day just relaxing? The effect of this on our mental and physical health would be beneficial to say the least. You may come up with some changes you can make that I have not mentioned. Be brave and make those changes. You can do it.
The one thing we all have inside of us is power .¨ the power to change any belief, thought or action. While most of us get caught up in the materialism of the holidays and feel powerless against the perfection requirements, the rushing here and there and the time constraints, we are truly powerful beings. With that power, we can change our expectations of ourselves and our expectations of the holidays. We can make the holidays look any way we want them to look. If we choose peace and happiness, we can create changes to make the holidays happy once again. We may not have control of the outside world, but we do have control of our ideas about that world. Let’s use that power to make changes that work in our favor for our health and happiness. Each one of us can make it a happy holiday.
Try This: Instead of saying, “Have a Happy Holiday”, which most of us are not having anyway, why not say, “Make it a Happy Holiday”? That puts the responsibility and the power to make the holidays happy in our hands. If my holidays are going to be happy, it is up to me. And if I am responsible for making my holiday happy, maybe I will change what I have done in the past which hasn’t made me happy. I’m in the driver’s seat now. The entire energy of the holidays has shifted to happy. Try it for yourself and see how it feels. A lot happens when you change your mind.