It’s important to know what you want from the holidays! That may seem obvious, however I see so many people who are continually disappointed by the holidays because they have fantasy expectations of what they will be like…ones that are never met.
If instead, they would only take a few moments to know exactly what they wanted….dinners with friends, a spiritual connection, less work….then they could focus on their priorities and make them happen. As an example, I normally love to cook for a crowd, so the holidays mean lots of family and friends around my table…and me in the kitchen at the center of it all. It also means lots of cleaning…the part I don’t love. This year, I’ve been traveling and working a lot, so the thought of all that cleaning made having them all over less appealing. I recognized that what I really wanted was to just be with them and enjoy us all being together. So this year…we’re headed into NYC to watch the Thanksgiving parade live and have dinner at a restaurant where we can all just relax and enjoy each other.
And for December, I’ll define my own priorities in terms of:
- Business: do I ramp it down and take some additional time off for the month, or ramp up in time for January?
- Personal: do I entertain, say yes to all invitations or be more selective, diet or throw caution to the winds, bake or buy, and more…
- Physical surroundings: do I decorate inside and out, avoid malls, travel or stay home?
- Financial: how much do I want to spend on gifts, entertaining and dining out? Are there free or inexpensive options to entertainment (and in my neck of the woods there actually are wonderful concerts and decorated communities to enjoy); how much charitable giving of my money or time do I want to give?
It’s also important this time of year (every time of year actually) to make sure your boundaries are in place. I know that I’m asked to bake or donate items for charities, pick from the giving tree, give time, money and food to so many worthy causes. And I’d love to do it all, but I can’t…and neither can you. So know in advance what you will give to causes, and what you will say to your network when they ask you to support their cause, or attend their $100 a person charity dinner, or pick something up for a friend, shop for a family member, or any requests that are more than you want to do. For the rest, a polite “no, but thank you for asking” should suffice.
You want to give out of joy, not out of obligation! I usually donate food and time to a local food bank or neighborhood kitchen. I have my two favorite organizations that have holiday events, and if they fit into my schedule I go, otherwise I send a donation. And beyond that I know exactly what “spare time” and money I have left for spur of the moment giving.
Give Thanks! It’s actually been show that being grateful can enhance emotional well-being, and lead to better mental, physical and spiritual health. You can consider a gratitude journal or an online site like http://www.gratitudelog.com.
And finally, slow down — take time to breathe, smell the pine cones and burning logs, sing songs, and savor good food. Laugh with your friends, hug your loved ones, and set the intention for a season filled with peace, joy and health.
I wish you all of that and more.