Intentionally Happy Holidays Are Possible
Christmas lights twinkling. Debating over who makes the best potato salad or deciding who is really ready to sit down at the Spades table. Okay… maybe that’s just my family. Dinner plans are being made and preparations are underway. During this time of year, dresses are being bought, decorations are being hung and worries begin to swirl inside like the snow outside. As a parent I want my kids to have a GREAT Christmas. Yes, even my adult kids. As a host I want my guests to enjoy my food, have fun playing games, and looking forward to joining me again next year. As soon as my mind shifts from enjoying the company of my friends and family it also shifts into the what-ifs. I begin to mourn things I haven’t lost! I think about not getting my son EVERY Nintendo Switch game he likes or only getting my daughter one piece of jewelry. I think about not cooking the spread I see in my mind; laid out for both adoration and consumption… if I am being honest. The more expectation I pile on myself the more I lose sight of why I care about all of those things in the first place! We have the opportunity to create space for a wonderful time. We have an opportunity to create memories that will matter and stay imprinted on our souls long after the money is spent, the decorations are put away and the lights have dimmed.
Despite all of the positive framing skills I utilize as a coach or the encouragement I always seek to lend I found myself working a little harder to be positive or encouraged as Christmas began to approach. Certainly not something I encounter every year but this year I certainly am. Maybe it’s because we came through a very dark period through COVID but now I find myself washed anew with appreciation and gratitude, really wanting to show the same to those I care about this year. Yes, even those people that are nit-picking or argumentative. I am determined to create happiness and joy in any way I can and to be grateful for it. I will not compare or engage in things that zap that. Whether it be a conversation or a thinking error. I refuse! Reaching this decision enabled me to start working on a plan of action of sorts. A plan to ensure that should I slide down this tinsel-adorned stress trap I would be able to stop the slide.
As I worked my way through the thistle of pre-conceived regret and wishes I figured someone else may be feeling the same. So I wanted to share some things that helped me shift my focus and subsequently my mood.
First, I had to remind myself that happy holidays tomorrow require self-care today. Don’t neglect that for the sake of the party, the gift, or the food. Don’t neglect it for self-imposed obligations. Your self-care matters today and every day. Prioritizing that in the balance of things will make for a merry holiday.
Next, commit to setting and enforcing boundaries. Boundaries around your time. Money. Energy. Mental space. If something or someone encroaches upon that boundary you have set to preserve your self-care? Enforce it as you safely and respectfully can. Here are a few boundaries I am utilizing
Take time for yourself! I know that time for ourselves is hard to come by, especially during the holidays. I really had to ask myself…how can I do that? I started small. Can I put the kids to bed a little earlier? Can I not go to the kickbacks or parties? Can I get pizza, pop in a pot pie, or eat sandwiches and chips for dinner? These are a few things I do to carve out time for myself.
Lastly, Plan what you can and accept what you can't. Full stop.
As moms, we usually try to go above and beyond for our kids. I imagine when you think of the holidays you see that bounty of presents, full families, and full tables. Everyone dressed up and singing songs. Please know ALLLLLLL of those images are cultivated!!! When tempted to compare, remind yourself that comparison is a thief and those images are not the standard. You set that standard for your family.
Wishing you an INTENTIONAL and Happy Holiday!