How to Stay with What’s Important this Holiday Season
Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Black Friday. Boxing day. New Year’s Day. Whether they’re based in religious ritual or capitalist norms (or both), traditions are very interesting because they come from the collective. We probably didn’t consciously opt in to these traditions as kids. If Kwanzaa was being celebrated in your house growing up, you probably celebrated Kwanzaa with minimal push-back.
Kids are curious, and we’re all given some sort of explanation of our traditions at some point. Some of us are told, “okay, so there’s this guy called Santa, and he’s going to come down our chimney in his pajamas. He’ll eat our cookies and then leave presents in our socks. Sound good?”
As kids, we basically go with it. If everyone else is doing it, that must be how it’s done.
Then at some point we get old enough to get suspicious. How does this work exactly? Why doesn’t Sam across the street have a Christmas tree? Who is this Santa guy anyway?
As we individuate we start to pull away from the previously accepted terms of the tradition. In a case like Santa Claus, most of us have a moment of disillusionment where we realize (gasp) Santa isn’t a real guy that comes into the house. He’s more like tinkerbell. If everyone believes in him, he exists. Now, as an adult, you have a set of your own core values that guide you to different degrees every day, whether you know it or not. We’ll dig into this more later.
The holidays can feel like a clash of different values if we decide to spend time with our rarely otherwise seen family members. Each family group is individually opting in to the collective values at different levels, and it doesn’t need to look as obvious as celebrating Christmas vs Hanukkah.
For Example, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Phil are only eating vegan this year so they’ll be bringing their own cauliflower turkey. All Uncle Ed wants to talk about when you see him is politics so you know he’ll be shoe-horning the recent US election into every conversation. You find yourself both looking forward to and completely dreading this get-together. You just hope you get enough leftovers to make it worth the visit. You tell yourself you have to go, your mom would be so disappointed if you didn’t make it. Plus you tend to be the only one able to keep Uncle Phil and Uncle Ed from fighting.
Okay. Reminder. This is your life, and you get to choose. Period. You are not responsible for taking care of your extended family (or anyone/anything else) at the expense of your mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual well being. This applies to other areas you may be struggling with during the holidays as well, by the way. From financial stress to short timelines, from feeling isolated to feeling obligated to recycle/reuse all that wrapping paper…our values have something to say about all of these.
With this in mind, how can you honour your values this year? How can you take care of yourself first and then give of yourself ONLY if it honours your values to do so. WHAT?!
I know, it seems unthinkable. Our workshops and coaching sessions go deeply into just this, but I want to offer a sneak peek in this post. Ultimately, the answers to these questions are inside you, and the VBL workshops and coaching sessions simply reveal answers that you already have in you.
YOU ARE THE WISDOM YOU NEED.
(sorry for yelling, but it’s important)
Keep that in mind as you ask yourself the following questions.
- What is important to you about the holiday season?
- What do you dread about the holidays?
- What would happen if those things you dread were eliminated from the equation? What would that feel like? Look like? What would you be like?
- If you had no fear, what would you do?
- What’s one aspect of your relationship with the holidays this year that you’re going to take control of?
I wish you so much courage and love as you move into this unique holiday season. Please take care of yourself and know that you are worth putting first.