When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.
– Bob Hope
The holiday season is only a few weeks away and you’re probably already brimming with anticipation. This year it is going to be great!
You have been making plans for months and everything is almost ready. You can’t wait to see everyone’s faces when they catch a glimpse of how you’ve decorated the house (inside and out), the new table ornaments you’ve bought, the mouth watering menu you’ve cooked up, and the perfect gifts you’ve gotten for everyone.
You tingle with excitement because you have thought of everything.
When Christmas Day comes it all races by in a rush and before you know it you’re sitting there with a cup of eggnog looking the tree and wondering where the magic went.
Is this all it’s about? The elaborate decorations, the food, the gifts – what about the magic that is advertised everywhere?
Why do you feel let down when the holiday season is all over?
Perhaps it’s time add something new or different to your plans. Below are five options for creating a new and meaningful holiday experience.
1. Assess Your Traditions
Putting up the tree and decorating the house is always done on December 15. Why? It’s tradition. That is the way it was done when I was growing up. I followed the same pattern for a while, then asked my mom, “Why December 15?” She replied, “That was when we got our mid-month pay. I had some extra money then.”
Do you have things related to the holiday season that are considered a tradition? Do you get snippy or irritated when members of your family question the tradition?
Do you know why the tradition began and why you’re continuing it? Perhaps you’re creating unnecessary stress over a tradition that has long lost it’s meaning or it never really had any value.
Change it up: As a family, create new traditions that represent your family values and current situation. You might be surprised at what people want when you open up the discussion.
2. Let Memories Stay in The Past
You close your eyes and you are a child again reliving the excitement and magic surrounding Christmas. The bright lights, the expectation of Santa, fantasizing about what you will get and the smells of the holiday goodies coming from the kitchen.
Are you trying to recapture a particular feeling or experience from your childhood?
This rarely works. You are attempting to recreate an emotion and a mood that cannot be reproduced. You are not the same as you were then nor is the situation the same.
Change it up: Create an experience that is meaningful and has value for everyone right now. A new memory that your family and friends will cherish long after the season is gone.
3. Let Go Of Others’ Expectations
You are surrounded by family, friends, society and rampant commercialism and each one of these comes with a different expectation for the holiday season.
They expect you to have a tree with decorations, buy everyone a perfect gift, have a fabulous meal and be happy and joyous!
Many people love all of this, but there are others who feel trapped by all the expectations. If you love it, great! If you don’t, why do you do it?
Change it up: What would be your ideal Christmas? Perhaps minimal decorations, no gifts, a simple meal and a day spent with loved ones. What would it feel like if you did what made you happy rather than feeling bullied by the expectations of others? Try it out and see!
4. Stop Aiming For Perfection
Around the holiday season, you often here people saying, “I want this Christmas to be perfect!”
When I hear this, I want to ask, “Perfect for whom?” Everyone’s idea of perfect is different.
For me, a perfect Christmas would be snuggled up with my beloved in front of a blazing fireplace sipping mulled wine. For another, it would be being surrounded by the boisterous laughter and gaiety of family. Someone else might consider sitting on a beach to be the perfect antidote to the wintry Christmas season we always see on TV.
Creating perfection is a difficult task, for it can only be seen from your perspective. If you are trying create a perfect holiday for someone else, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Change it up: Expand your perception of a perfect day. You might rephrase your wishes to, “I want this holiday to be a reflection my love and joy for my family.”
5. Be Fully Present In The Experience
You have spent weeks in preparation for the big day only to feel tried and disappointed when it’s all over. At the end of the day, have you ever thought, “Next year, I’m not doing this”?
Change it up: On Christmas Day, slow down and fully experience each moment. Clear your mind of thought or judgement allow yourself to be immersed in the richness of your senses.
Breathe deeply and let your senses guide you. Listen to the laughter and giggles of the children or to the soft music in the background. Hear the real joy being expressed by a special gift. Smell the rich scents wafting in from the kitchen or perhaps the pine boughs on the mantle. Let you eyes rest on the colorful lights reflecting off the snow or each beautiful face in the room. As you eat, savor each bite of food and pay attention to the different flavors. Shift down to your heart and feel the love and joy in the moment.
At this level of experience you are receiving your deepest and most long-lasting gifts!
May this holiday season be rich with unique experiences and memories that fill you with joy!
Featured photo credit: Close up of Christmas market stall in Basel, Switzerland via shutterstock.com