Make the Holidays Your Own

How to have a more peaceful, less stressful winter season

Hey friends! I want to talk to you about the winter holidays. But hang on just a moment before you might start to judge me for being just like those department stores that go crazy putting up winter decorations the day after Halloween. I hope you will let me explain!

I’m interested in helping you think about the holidays way before they are upon us. I’m interested in helping you create new ways of celebrating that may not cost as much money or cause exhaustion. I’m interested in helping you set the stage for a new kind of holiday culture, if that’s what you desire.

In order to do this, we have to start now, before the gift lists, party plans and plane reservations are made.

Once that ole holiday machine gets in motion, it can be hard to slow or stall!

Why Change Anything Around Holiday Celebrating?

You may be asking, “What’s the problem? I LOVE the holidays!” If that’s the case, just know that you are perfectly happy with the way you celebrate the holidays and just keep on keepin’ on! You can bask in the happy knowledge that a merry season will be upon you soon.

For many people, however, the holidays bring up a lot of unresolved feelings of obligation; dread around over-spending, over-eating or over-doing; anxiety about travel; guilt over family differences; and a lot of other not-so-jolly stuff.

If you are in the latter camp, then read on!

How to Get Clear about What You Really Want for the Holidays.

Maybe you have a sense that you’d like a more peaceful, more meaningful, less stressful holiday; but you don’t even know what that really looks like.

It can be a process to untangle the complex set of emotions around the holidays — just like untangling those faerie lights you jumbled up in the decorations box last January!

No problem. Let’s start by pulling on a few strands and loosening things up by getting out your journal and reflecting on some questions.

Hopefully you can set aside a quiet space of at least 20-30 minutes for this. Make yourself a cup of tea, find a cozy spot and trust that clarity will come.

Journaling prompts:

  • What do I look forward to about the holidays? What do I enjoy?
  • What do I find myself complaining about every year? Does it have to do with travel? Family? Gift giving? Parties? Food? Spending? Obligations? FOMO? Ritual?
  • Do I participate in things that are stressful during the holidays? Why or why not?
  • Do I participate in things that feel out of alignment with my values? What things?
  • Do I wish there was more quiet time? More hoopla? More creativity? More fun? More solitude? More travel? Or LESS of any of those things?
  • If I could wave a magic wand and have this holiday season be wholly aligned with who I am and what I would love, what would it look like?
  • Can I create that vision? Why or why not?
  • If I can’t create all of that vision, are there aspects I could incorporate right now?
  • Who would I need to talk to in order to change up a few things? What do I suspect they will say? What might help me influence them to try this?

What to do next!

Read over everything you’ve written in response to those questions.

Now, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What is one simple next step that I could take that would help move me closer to the holiday experience I would love to have?”

If nothing drops in, be patient. Give yourself grace. Write the question on a piece of paper and post it somewhere where you will see it every day. Trust that that next step will come to you.

young romantic couple sitting on sofa in front of fireplace at home

When it does, will you commit to doing it?

If it feels too uncomfortable or requires wading through some anxiety about rocking the holiday boat, try to think of just one person who might be an ally for you or, at the very least, would be able to listen to you and help you start to make a small shift. Reach out to them.

If not this, what?!

Now that you’ve done your own journaling and hopefully have planned to talk to others to cultivate ideas, I want to share a few possibilities with you. Read over them and see if anything resonates or sparks other ideas!

  • Host a Holiday Sit (Silent meditation)
  • Host a Holiday Hoopla (Instead of material gifts, create a day of games/adventure everyone participates in)
  • Vacation holiday (Rent a house and play together)
  • Donation holiday (Instead of buying presents, pool money and donate to a cause)
  • Alternative Celebration Day holiday (Celebrate together in January when travel prices go down and all the holiday stuff is half-off)
  • Exchanging names for gifts instead of a big list
  • Breakfast with friends/dinner with family
  • No cook holiday or no gifts holiday
  • $10 spending limit on gifts
  • “Found Gifts” exchange (Draw names for exchanging gifts. Then set a timer for 10 minutes and everyone finds an object in the house that feels like the spirit of the person whose name they drew. Have fun sharing stories. Return objects to where they were found!)

If you’ve heard of a great holiday alternative, post in the comments please! We’d love to hear!

If not now, when?!

One thing I want you to think about is that THIS is your life. Right here. Right now. Whether you are thirty or fifty-five or eighty-five, you belong to this moment and time. You deserve to set some boundaries around and build new foundations for the life you want.

A lot of times, the holiday wheels get in motion in the same way year after year after year simply because no one pauses to question things or to invite new experiences in.

Perhaps other people you celebrate the holidays with are also secretly hoping for something new. What if you were the brave one to start the conversation? What if something entirely unexpected and wonderful could be born from your courage?

The door to change is wide open! Take a risk. Celebrate YOUR way! Whether you choose to deck the halls or not, may your heart be merry and gay!

make the holidays your own 3 deposit

Sherry’s mission is helping people find creative, intentional and impactful ways to celebrate life and to express love for family and friends. Visit her website or email her to say hello at Sherry’s book, “Say it Now; 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life,” is now available on Amazon. Join Sherry’s free 5-day challenge, "Olly Olly Oxen Free: Permission and Belonging," here.

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