It is October 31st: the day when you see an army of ghosts, ghouls, princesses and pirates running through the streets with their pumpkin pail full of candy. It is also the day before November 1st, the apparent official beginning of the Christmas season. I know that tonight when I come home from yoga, I will either hear a Christmas add on the radio or see one on the t.v. How do we create resiliency so that we can survive the holidays?
We live in a world where Christmas starts half-way through Halloween. If you happen to be a Costco member, it started in August when the Christmas trees and wrap went up right next to the larger than life witch and cauldron vignette you could buy for your front yard. Is anyone panicking yet? Does the pressure of the holiday season weigh on you? Never fear! I am here to help!
Let me ask you: what does your Christmas day look like? Are you one of the fortunate ones that gets to remain in your pajamas all day, drinking coffee and eating cookies for breakfast or do you set an alarm clock to ensure you don’t oversleep and screw up the military level schedule of visiting that you have set to keep everyone happy? Do you have your own traditions or do you find yourself so far disconnected from that word that you wouldn’t know what your ideal Christmas would look like if it kicked you in the ass?
Christmas Survival Skills
What qualifies me to speak on this subject? I come from a very large family. My husband comes from a very large family. They are all amazing and if Christmas was three days long I would love to see every single one of them. I love the chaos and the energy and did I mention the food? I once spent 17 minutes at one of my brothers’ houses on Christmas day because that was all that the schedule permitted. One year, we didn’t even turn on our tree until 10pm and did so simply to take a photo together because we hadn’t been home all day. Add to that, my parents divorced when I was 12 and for much of my adolescence Christmas had to be over by a certain time and then it started all over again at the next house.
What to Do If This All Sounds Too Familiar
I hope that this single day of the year is full of love and light and ease, but just in case it is busy and somewhat overwhelming, I will lay out some actionable steps to support you to create a Christmas that you love instead of one you spend a week recovering from.
- Imagine Your Ideal Day – Take a moment and imagine what your perfect day would look like. Who are you with? What are you eating, wearing, celebrating? Take some time to be in the space of that day and imagine what it would feel like if you didn’t HAVE to do anything other than what felt right to you.
- Communicate – Long before the big day comes, find a way to communicate with your spouse what you want the day to look like. Ask them to imagine their ideal day. Paint the picture together and make sure that you are firmly on the same page and that you both feel heard and understood. You are on the same team and you have the right to decide what you want this day to look like. When you add the next steps in, you will want to ensure that you have one another’s back.
- Communicate – Yes, I am repeating myself. This is a big one and not always one that goes well because this step involves taking your vision and putting it out into the real world. If your vision of your Christmas is far removed from the expectations of your loved ones then this step is for you. Guess what: you are allowed to decide what you want the day to look like. There is no rule book that outlines what Christmas is supposed to look like. If you want to spend the day on a beach in Aruba, go for it. That sounds amazing! If you want to host your whole family, YAY! If you want to close the blinds and not move for 24 hours, WAHOO! This is your life and you are the captain of the ship. Get crystal clear about what you want day to look like and then craft it and tell the people that need to know. Let it be the beautiful special occasion it should be, for your family, on your own terms.
- Practice Compassion – it is not always easy to be the one that goes against the grain. This isn’t about conflict, it is about not compromising a piece of yourself just to keep others happy. Be kind to yourself and your loved ones. When you communicate what you want the day to look like, don’t let it be reactionary, let it come from a place of clarity and compassion.
- Let it Go – you don’t own the reactions of other people. You only own how you show up in the world. If you have created your vision for your family, communicated that compassionately and clearly, and people don’t understand, that’s ok. It happens. This may be the hardest step, but if you have tuned into your inner voice and are confident that it is right for you, then it becomes easier to release the yucky stuff that occasionally arises.
No, I am not a Scrooge. I love Christmas. I love the sparkle and the food and the tidings of good cheer. I am a very fortunate person to have a lovely home and an amazing person to share the holidays with. I want for nothing and because of that I get to enjoy the most important thing about Christmas: the time. I want to create traditions that are unique to us. I want to slow down the pace. I want everyone I love to have the same experience for their own Christmases. I want them to stay in their pjs and let their kids play with their gifts. I love them enough to give them the space to have a beautiful day full of ease, love and light.
Tell me: what does your ideal Christmas look like? Can you relate? What are you favorite parts of this special day?