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A Stress-Free Holiday

Regardless of how you spend the holidays this year, there’s bound to be some level of stress. It seems our culture has set us up to believe that holidays and stress go together and with the pandemic very well changing holiday plans for a lot of people, it’s good to be clear with who you want to be with and why. 

If we’ve learned anything from 2020, is that our society/culture has set us up to believe a lot of things that aren’t necessarily true.   

What is true are the concerns I hear from clients: 

“I want to be comfortable with my parents.” 

“I want to celebrate and entertain the way I always do, but I don’t want to feel disappointed.” 

“My efforts go unappreciated and it bothers me, but I don’t say anything.” 

“I could use some help; can’t people see that?!”  

Here we are two months away from the holidays and people are already stressing about not wanting to be stressed!

I have always loved the holidays. December brings so many warm cozy memories. I love the weather, the festivities, the baking and making of gifts for people. It’s also my birthday month along with my husband and brother and about five other extended family members. My second brother and I are 1 week and 3 years apart and within 2 to 3 weeks before Christmas. My husband is just a few days after Christmas. So needless to say December is a busy month full of love.

My husband and I began hosting Christmas the first year we got married and continued on consistently for 27 years.  Together, we have been fortunate to entertain both of our families. The effort of it never bothered me because I enjoyed the joy of the season and all that goes into entertaining during the holidays. 

The last five years, however, have revealed a mix of joy and exhaustion with all the work. I either do it, knowing it is time-consuming and don’t mind the time it takes and the creation the event offers, or I do it out of obligation and then end up resenting my own efforts. 

I have never entered into the holidays with resentment, that seems like an oxymoron to me. However, over the last several years my exhaustion and lack of joy for something that I had loved to do was shifting in its purpose.

Our Family Festivities

For many years my husband and I chose to do Christmas day dinner.  He may not have liked all the work involved for a variety of his own reasons, but we both liked the opportunity to entertain and get festive. It was a fun time for our daughters as they were growing up to bake and be part of the celebration. As our girls got older they became an integral part of the menu creation and help in the kitchen.  Much to their dismay, they were also a part of the house cleaning before and after. You know, it could take about 2-3 days to fully clean up from Christmas day dinner for 25+ people.

When hosting, you have every right to decide how best to offer your home and your love.  If you open your home, you decide on how many and for whom. If you make the menu, you decide how to delegate or not. 

If you choose not to delegate dishes, then be very clear with why. Is it for dietary reasons? Portion control? Or that you’d rather eat your own food over Aunt Sally’s concoction?  Be clear with yourself and realize that in the season of sharing, people want to give and they want to contribute. So while control of the menu might be your game, denying a guest to share in the festivities of contributing a dish cuts them off from sharing their own creation. No one has to outdo or ever impress anyone and many hands make lighter work.

Be honest with yourself on why you’re making the choices you are during this holiday season. Who’s coming to dinner? Who’s making the meal and can anything be a shared effort? Are you providing from your heart without attachments to any outcome? People will rarely respond the way you might hope they do, but if you’re coming from your heart then it doesn’t matter. If you find yourself bothered with the lack of appreciation that you hoped for, then you may need to check your intention of the entire gathering. 

Making Choices During the Holidays

Remember, you’re always at choice in life. We forget this because we often just act without questioning our own motives. If you sincerely want to entertain and have fun, then do that. If you need help then ask for it. If you want full control, ask why. If you don’t wish to relinquish any control then you can’t really complain when Uncle Joe doesn’t lift a finger or simply say thank you. 

Something switched for us in the last five years when it came to entertaining 25+ people for our holiday dinner. Two years ago my husband and I did the unthinkable and left our kids and family over Christmas to travel to Bali. We had purchased tickets to a yoga/music retreat that happened to fall right over Christmas.  It was the most liberating feeling to do that and everyone survived!

This year things will be different, as everything this year has been different. Personally, I’m not sure what that looks like yet.  What I do know is that my dad is 90, my mom 84 and my mother in law is 94, so we’ll be close to home. Perhaps a small family gathering with good food and heartfelt gratitude for what we can share together. Isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to represent anyhow?

What if this year the holidays are spent with ease and true grace and gratitude? Isn’t that what the season is really representative of?  How about instead of over-giving to feel loved, over-doing to impress, over-indulging to escape, or resisting in order to not truly receive, that instead, we all take a deep breath and show up in a way that we might choose to if it were our very last holiday gathering.

Joy Can Take Center Stage of Your Holiday

Maybe this year instead of the stress that can accompany the holidays, joy can take center stage. Let the decisions come from the heart, not the head. That way, how you choose to celebrate becomes a genuine choice rather than an expectation of oneself to appease others.

When choices are made from the heart there is more sincerity and expectations fall away.  Resentment or hurt feelings for people not seeing “how hard you worked” don’t enter into the picture.

Maybe 2020 becomes the year that Peace, Joy, and Goodwill to all is actually lived out in their truest forms. Perhaps this is the year that requires us all to sit back and take in what might have been missed in past years.  The love and gratitude that is displayed once a year during the holidays, may just become an everyday occurrence. 

If this is how you’d like to enter this holiday season, schedule a FREE CLARITY CALL with me. Let us explore the ways you can discern and make better decisions to have peaceful holiday preparations.