“You, me, donuts, coffee, standing out in a snowstorm.”Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls. Little Women. Harry Potter. These are a few of my favorite stories to enjoy year round, but especially during the holiday season. Why? Maybe it’s the humorous dialogue, the endearing characters, or the fantastical adventures. More likely, it’s the underlying message of loving each other no matter what, working together to create special moments, and making magic (literally or figuratively).
Another thread that runs through the stories I mentioned is that, as women, we create celebrations. From Mrs. Weasley and her comforting meals to Lorelai Gilmore and her all-out party decor, not to mention the March sisters and their Christmas made from almost nothing, we have examples everywhere of women creating comfort and joy. While this is a wonderful part of being a woman, I believe that we must learn to pass on our valuable skills to our spouses and children so we can all feel empowered to create these moments together.
A Different Kind of Holiday Season
This particular holiday season, there are so many things to consider. With social distancing, limited long distance travel, and countless other details to be sorted out, it’s challenging to imagine a world in which any part of the holidays could be normal this year, and definitely not easy in any way. I would argue otherwise, though. In spite of everything, there are things that we can do right now to help us celebrate with ease, and to actually be present with our family and friends (in our household pod and beyond) this season.
First, let’s consider what “ease” even means: the absence of difficulty or effort. Now, this may seem impossible right now, given the myriad of ways that our lives are being interrupted on a daily basis, but here are some practical ideas I conjured up (Halloween IS tomorrow, after all!) to combat the general holiday overwhelm:
Make Peace with Reality
It’s true, holidays will be different, whether we like it or not. For instance, you may not have the same budget you always had for purchasing gifts. In the past, perhaps you purchased a gift for everyone under the sun, but this year may be the perfect time to reconsider who really needs a store-bought gift and who can receive something smaller. As you make your list and check it twice, consider that there are many ways to be generous.
Something as simple as a homemade baked good with a handwritten note can make just as much of an impression (if not more) on the recipient. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that gifts represent our relationships with others. With this in mind, we can more easily determine who to give a gift to and what kind of gift to give.
In order to have a truly easy holiday, go ahead and make a plan for how you will get gifts.
Will you order online? Does the store offer free shipping, delivery, or in store pick up? Better yet, will they even wrap the gifts for you?
Some less obvious, but equally important considerations: where do the products come from? Who made them? What are they made of? Do the values of the companies from which you are purchasing your gifts match up to your standards and the things you care about?
Now more than ever, our choices make a difference. If you usually head straight to the big online retailers right after Thanksgiving, consider changing it up and checking out some of the local shops in your area. Many can offer conveniences such as free local delivery or store pick up. Plus, you can feel great knowing that you are supporting small businesses.
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No, I don’t mean that you need to constantly be happy. Nor do I mean that you should float through life ignoring everyone and everything that is going on around you. Mindfulness is by definition a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
So, if you are feeling stress, accept it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, accept it. Take comfort in knowing that if you’re feeling that way, many of us are also feeling that way.
Feel the feelings, and then decide to keep going anyway. This is mindfulness. This holiday season, it’s going to be crucial that we all accept how we feel and keep going anyway. Especially if we want to experience any kind of peace, hope, joy, and love.
While being mindful, make a commitment to have fun, and enjoy time with family. Try not to dwell on the past or the future. Focus on the present moment, and seek quality time with your spouse, children, and extended family (if possible).
If you can’t physically be near the ones you love, find ways to connect with them through the miracles of modern technology. Even something as simple as a card in the mail or phone call can bring joy.
Ask For Help
News flash: You are not Wonder Woman. As much as you may want to create the perfect holiday experience for your family, it’s going to be difficult to truly experience ease and to enjoy time with them if you are running around doing everything for everyone.
The solution? Ask for help. For example, if you usually decorate the house all by yourself, maybe let the kids chip in this year. Sure, it probably won’t be perfect or exactly the way you do it, but that’s one less thing for you to handle.
The same goes for wrapping gifts, baking those homemade baked goods for the neighbors, writing notes to the kids’ teachers, making the holiday meals. Anything is fair game, in my opinion. This year has been a doozie. Let’s ask for help to finish it with ease.
What is important to you and your family this holiday season?
Ultimately, it comes down to this question. In order to make the holidays as easy as possible this year, determine what is really important to you and your family these holidays. Sit down together and discuss what you want. Then, be purposeful about creating that for yourselves. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, we’re not in this alone. Our loved ones want to help us, we just have to be willing to accept that help and look at it as an opportunity to gather together and make a special celebration.
Are you seeking ease this holiday season?
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Wishing you the easiest holiday season ever!