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The holiday season, with all its expectations, is upon us. I am working hard on not shoulding myself. I should decorate…. I should shop…. I should plan and …. STOP! Breathe.
Why do we have all these holidays in the first place? From now to January, it is one event after another. Holidays are meant to be time set apart from everyday routines to refresh and renew. Most originated long before written history. Their purpose has been skewed by the marketing efforts of mega corporations. Images of perfect homes with over-the-top gifts and elaborate meals burdens us with expectations of what a good life is supposed to look like.
You have the same needs as your ancestors – warmth, safety, enough supplies to get through winter, community, love and belonging. Your brain is always scanning for safety and then looking for meaning. As we prepare for winter, holidays give us a chance to refresh and renew. Here I play with some ideas for creating meaning this holiday season.
Warmth is a primal need in winter. Both the warmth of connection and of cozy things to curl up with in the dark. Settle in with a blanket and a good book. Make a phone call to hear someone’s voice. If you would like to receive a resilience postcard this winter, simply complete the form at the end of this post.
Food is a way to care for yourself and others. Stock up in case of bad weather and donate to a food bank for others. Plan delicious treats to share. Cooking as play – make something new or something you have loved forever. Or order your favorite takeout.
Light is so needed in the dark. Set out candles and shiny decorations, sparkly lights and flickering fires. If your energy allows, do a whole room makeover, or light one small candle and allow it to bring a spark of joy as you take a slow breath.
Nature – because you are part of the natural world. Find ways to stay connected to nature in the cold. Bring in some branches or a pinecone. Take a walk or step outside once a day to feel the sun on your face. I try to step outside early in the morning so that I know the weather for myself. Some days this lasts 15 seconds, other days it turns into a walk or a time to sit out front.
Fun – because your brain is always going. Hibernation is not our natural state, we need stuff to do. Many holiday gifts reflect this – puzzles and games, toys and craft projects. Have a UFO (unfinished object) gathering – invite people to bring that ½ crocheted scarf, partly sewed quilt and unlettered photo album to work on during a chilly weekend.
Community rituals and routines keep us connected. Go to that party. Have a game night. The house doesn’t need to be perfect; the decorations don’t have to be Pinterest worthy. Make sure the bathroom is clean and ask people to bring snacks or a game to share.
Wisdom is an awareness that winter, and other dark times, is not permanent. The light will come again. Explore stories and books, movies and songs. What grounds you? A prayer, a workout routine, a seashell that holds the sound of the ocean? Create your own rituals and return to them time and time again.
Holidays are MEANT to refresh and restore, connect and sustain. Focus on those parts that matter to you and do your best to let go of the rest.
Join us December 8 at noon for our final Resilience Check In of the year! We will be talking about dealing with holiday stress. The zoom link will be sent to our email list. If you are not already receiving these blogs in your email you can sign up here.
To receive a postcard, complete the form below.
Laura A. Gaines