The Great Holiday Audit, Pt. 1
Updated: Jan 11
Holidays are here, whether we are ready for them or not. I know fewer people this year who are talking about how much they are looking forward to them. That is a shame. Through the chaos, the holidays can still be quite lovely. I have written previously about holiday preparation but this holiday audit is a little different. With the pandemic realities and changes in mind, I have a few simple things I'm going to be doing to ensure a lovely holiday with my family. Maybe they will help you, too.
1. Less is more. This year in particular, I have seen that we don't need too much to survive. We don't need much to thrive, either. I am trying my hardest to resist the urge to buy our way into any sort of happiness. An abundance of things has not really made us happier these last few months. A few special go-to reliables has been the name of the game. So if I can find a few things I know we will love I am happier gifting those in lieu of buying little trinkets and pencils and basically "fillers" for putting in boxes. More is not more in this case. I think opening gifts is the greatest joy so there will be still be lots of enjoy, even if it means I wrap books individually instead of as part of a set. I know we have been very happy without a lot of stuff. I know we have been happy without spending a lot of money. I want to continue that tradition through the holidays this year.
2. Pay it forward, over and over and over. We are so lucky. We have our health and all of our family members, though we can't hug them and be with them this season. We have our income. We have a roof over our head and food to eat. And more than we need. This year, more than ever, needs to be about paying it forward. Adopt a family to treat for the holidays. Take money saved from a missed vacation and give it to our desperately struggling food banks. Reach out to a nursing home to see about bringing joy to the homebound in the form of holiday cards or parking lot caroling. There is no shortage of need, and no shortage of opportunities to pay it forward just a bit. This is not about throwing a whole lot of money at others, but all about throwing a whole lot of heart behind doing very small things that make a difference to the person on the receiving end of your thoughtfulness. Paying it forward sets an example for our kids, and certainly makes my own holidays happier.
3. Create new traditions. Be ok with abandoning something that has always been done to make room for something new. I just can't go caroling, spreading my joyful noise and virus down the street is not what is needed this year! I can't travel home for the holidays and infect my elderly parents. I can't stroll through used bookstores searching out the perfect books for my yearly book exchange with my sister-in-law. But abandoning those activities need not ruin an otherwise lovely holiday season. I don't believe that traditions were made to be broken, as the old saying goes, but I do believe that traditions can change. After all, traditions are supposed to bring us joy. How can they bring us joy if they become stubborn reminders of what we are missing? How about doing what we love? If that means caroling in the living room with zoom friends to participate, so be it.
4. Don't go there. You know what I mean. That place where you rant about how much life sucks and how much you hate this year and how bad things are and how lonely this is or how expensive this is, or - - yeah. There. Don't go there. Especially not now. Every moment spent doing that is actually lost holiday time. There is a place, between misery and complete holiday elation, where you can find a great spot to be. It is so disheartening and unproductive to spend precious time being trapped in that fictional place of misery. If needed, give yourself a few moments to wallow. Be upset, list the grievances, lament the loss of Aunt Jane's apple pie, and then give yourself permission to move on. Above all else, never forget that the way this holiday goes is still completely up to you. Bah humbug that if you must but it is completely true.
5. Force the festive feeling. Turn on the holiday station. Light a pine scented candle. Watch holiday movies, or at least have them on in the background. Eat the damn candy cane. I mean, just do it. Do some of those things that you usually pass on. For me, the worst thing I can imagine this holiday and every holiday is glitter. I hate every single thing about it. But what did I do? I brought out the glitter so the kids could make cards and go to town on their stencil crafts and more. I mean, why not? The holidays only come around once a year (thank the Lord) so if not now, then when? I don't believe that we can force ourselves to be happy, this or any season, but I do firmly believe that we are capable of setting the conditions necessary for happiness to have room to grow. Closing our minds to holiday cheer, with our behavior following closely behind, keeps us trapped in a self-destructive loop of "no joy, no cheer, the holidays stink". Let something in. Let someone in. Be proactive with your festive feelings this year. It takes practice. Start now and by the time you are ringing in the new year, you will know ALL of the words to Silver Bells. I know - a holiday dream come true!