It’s the most wonderful time of year.
Or is it?
For some of us, that song, indeed The Holidays themselves, sounds like a thousand reindeer hooves scraping across Santa’s blackboard. Bah, humbug!
Oh, we all know better than to stress out about The Holidays. This year, we promise, we won’t overextend ourselves. We won’t overindulge. We won’t spend time in places we don’t want to go or with people we don’t want to be with. Never again, we say.
Then we do it anyway. We buy too much, eat too much, drink too much, decorate too much, push ourselves too much. Spend too much time in too many places with too many people we don’t really care about.
We even expect too much from others, thinking that this year our family and friends will behave in ways that they won’t, don’t, or can’t.
And we start the New Year needing a week in an isolation tank, four hours a day at the gym, and a very large inheritance to regain our energy, our weight, and our financial health, resolved, of course, to Never Do It Again.
‘Tis the season.
So this year, let’s just admit it and do our very best to show up each day of the rest of this year committed to a new tune–one that will take us to the other side of The Holidays happy, healthy and soulful.
Here are a few tips for a Holly, Jolly Holiday Season:
1. Don’t wait until New Year’s Day to ring out the old, and ring in the new. Start right now. How do you want to feel in early January? What kind of connection and memories do you want to have made with your family and friends? What do you want your credit card balance, your weight and your energy level to be? How do you want to feel about yourself?
Decide the answers to these questions and ring in the new right now. Don’t wait. Set an intention to begin the New Year today.
2. Make a list and check it twice. Write down your tendencies—those pesky areas where you know you are challenged. Do you eat, drink, shop, or cook too much? Get so frazzled you don’t enjoy your friends and family?
You better not pout. Decide what do you want instead. What do you want to have created when the holidays are over? How do you want to feel? How do you want to look? What do you want to weigh? What credit card balance do you want to pay in January? What do you want to have accomplished? Who do you want to have spent time with?
Write down each of your holiday tendencies–the ones that take you away from what you want for the New Year. Then write down a new behavior to begin today. If, say, you are challenged by the avalanche of sweets in your office, note it and add the inspired action that will bring you to the intention you set: “When I’m at work, I’ll really savor and enjoy one small sweet treat each day. Then, I’ll stop.”
Check your list more than twice if you need to. Check it whenever you are tempted to eat, drink or be merry in self-destructive ways.
3. Hark! Your body’s wisdom sings! Got a gnawing feeling in the pit of your belly? That’s your body saying “listen up”. That’s how it get’s your attention. It’s crooning to you, guiding you towards what you really want.
So what’s on your playlist? Is it Winter Wonderland in four-part harmony or Welcome to My Nightmare as you agree to bake 400 holiday cupcakes for a school party? I’ll Be Home for Christmas or the theme song from Dragnet when you’re about to say “yes” to a seven hour drive on snowy roads to be with your great aunt’s long lost third cousin?
Hark! Those inner songs are clues. Listen.
4. Over the river and through the woods to Crazytown we go. You know this tune. You fantasize a holiday gathering that looks like a 1940s Christmas card, with everyone cheerfully bonding ’round the hearth.
You also know what you get instead. Every year. Your mother asks if you’ve gained weight. Aunt Betty asks if you have a boyfriend yet. Your brother’s kids have a burping contest as they launch wrapping paper spitballs into the gravy, while your bro and Uncle Charlie have a loud, eggnog and rum-fueled debate about whether it’s the Republicans or the Democrats messing up the world.
Okay, so they drive you crazy. That’s what families do, and they’re going to do it again. And you love them all anyway. So, don’t expect them to be different. Count on them being the way they always are. Bring your sense of humor and your brightest holiday smile to your family gatherings. Leave your fantasies home.
5. Deck the halls with boughs of simplicity, meaning, and love. Banish your Inner Martha Stewart from your halls. The real Martha has teams of elves to help her, and she makes a gazillion dollars to do all that stuff. You don’t. Need I say more?
So sing out! Cry out, “No, No, No!” to all of your shoulds. To anything and everything that feels heavy, burdensome, or born of obligation. To all that numbs, distracts, disconnects, or drains you.
Then, jubilantly raise your voice to sing out “Yes!” to all that feels like love, connection, joy, happiness, fun, generosity, gratitude, strength, courage, peace, nurture, kindness, compassion, humor, and appreciation. To all that nourishes your soul and your ability to connect with what gives your life meaning. To everything that makes you laugh, that strengthens you, that makes you whole. To all that energizes you, feeds your spirit, and brings you alive.
And whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the end of 2011, don’t wait. Let this time be the beginning of a whole new way of approaching the most wonderful time of the year.
Best wishes for a fun, happy, healthy, wondrous Holiday Season and a New Year brimming with joy, peace, prosperity, connection, and laughter.