Whether you are rubbing your hands in glee over the impending festivities…or dreading them, this is the time right now to create an experience of your choice.
Does this cat look happy to you?
Take a moment and list the things you either enjoy or not-so-much about the season ahead. It’s your list, do not hold back, nothing is too simple or silly, (sprinkles on cookies) or so dreadful (dinner with an abusive relative) that you can’t list it.
By facing these aspects of the holidays you are giving yourself a chance to make things happen, or creatively avoid others! Even situations that you feel can’t be avoided will come off better if you are prepared.
One of the core skills for organization is knowing yourself, so I am inviting you to organize your experience by planning ahead.
Here are a few typical Holiday Chaos points:
Decorating: Is the process a celebration or has it become a chore? I emphasize the process here. If the process is a pain, is it worth it? If yes, great. If not, at lease reconsider how MUCH you decorate.
Gifts: Have you already considered just how much energy this takes and designed some systems to keep it meaningful? I encourage you to do so if you feel trapped in anyway by expectation – both your own and others. It should be fun to give appropriate gifts, not a time and budget draining chore.
Events: As you might guess the real question is:
Are you doing ritualized customs because you are expected to or because you really enjoy them? If there really is no way to excuse yourself without some sort of emotional fallout, perhaps you can start adjusting your own attitude and approach to the event.
Here are some examples from my experience:
As to decorating, I have made peace with the fact that my house will not have outside lights, probably ever. It’s just too much of a hassle. However, our tree is a work of wonder. Some years I drag out the nutcrackers,and others they stay in the box, I get to choose!
Gifts consist of being together these days. None of us needs more stuff, and if I can help my children pay for things they can’t afford during the year, I do so. Yes, the tree looks a little weird with nothing under it, but we have adapted. It also gives the cat more room to sleep under there
Events are always undergoing change. As my father is now in a dementia care facility our holidays will certainly look different, but with care and awareness I know we will all come together somehow. It might mean things happen on different days or times, at different places, but that is not the real point.
Remember, YOU get to determine what that real point is: appearances, custom, togetherness, history, whatever!
Now take out your list and examine it carefully. Are there things on it that you want to happen? If so put them on a calendar, don’t wait to see if you’ll have the energy.
- I really get a kick out of those light-shows at places like the zoo and the botanical gardens. But unless I plan a week night to go, I give up and choose to avoid crowds.
- I adore fancy German stollen, so I get several and freeze them for later enjoyment. I also get extra antihistamines so I can drink eggnog and still breathe!
If you have listed some negative stuff, really stop and consider how you might either excuse yourself from them, or at least re-frame a situation.
- I excused myself from writing cards years ago,and nothing bad has happened. The people I care about know that I do, and I no longer have to recycle a bunch of fancy paper.
- I have been lucky enough not to have close family members I’d rather avoid, however I learned one lesson the hard way a few years ago. Sometimes it would be better to remove myself from the table and take a walk, no matter what anyone said to me about it. If you feel you cannot avoid unpleasant situations with people, consider planning an exit strategy in advance. Perhaps all you need is a simple statement that you will need to leave at a certain time.
The real challenge to any of this comes from within.
Do you really believe you have to justify your choices to anyone?
What will happen if you act knowing what is actually best for your own state of health, balance and serenity?
As the days shorten take the opportunity to enjoy being safe and warm. Many in the world are not, and our best choice is stay aware of that as we make our choices and chose our experience.