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The Holidays Are Coming
Somehow summer came and went in the blink of an eye. Here in the great Pacific Northwest the skies have gone grey, the temperature has dropped, and the rains have returned. And that means the approach of the long march of the winter Holidays. We humans must have crammed so many important dates into the winter months because all that darkness needs some sprucing up. But with it all comes holiday stress.
Today is Halloween, the day we commemorate our dead, or in this modern world just laugh at death a little. But in the cold and dark it’s good to get a chance to laugh, to thumb our noses at the approaching darkness of our own ends and prove we’re still carefree and having fun despite it all.
Halloween is still pretty low key on the stress scale but after it comes Thanksgiving, and then for most of us
Christmas is right around the corner (or Hanukah, or Winter Solstice). With that the stress begins to ramp up. I don’t know about you all but the Halloween stuff showed up in my local stores in August and before it was even gone they were already putting up Christmas decorations.
For me the piling of holidays on top of each other makes them feel rushed and forced. I find myself digging in my heels and wanting to slow down time. But inevitably that just means I’m scrambling in the last few days before the holiday to get done all the things I put off in my stubbornness.
What Matters Most
So as with many things in my life, when the craziness of the holiday rush starts to creep in I go back to whatmatters most. The vast majority of what causes us holiday stress isn’t actually necessary. Does that seem strange? Think about your core values. I doubt any of them have much at all to do with sending Christmas cards, or buying gifts, or company parties. But they probably do have a great deal to do with the relationships you value most, your health (body and spirit), and leaving a better world for those who come after you.
As is so often the case, if we know our values we can make better choices based on those values. We won’t be swayed by every guilt inducing ad, or the neighbor’s bragging. No matter what holiday you celebrate there is a meaning behind it. That meaning, and our own values can help to bring peace to your life during this time of the year.
Joy To the World
Does it seem strange to suggest that you can have a holiday season free of stress and angst? It’s pretty counter cultural. Our whole culture is built around getting us riled up and reacting off our emotions. I findmyself shaking my head in bemusement every year as the “holiday vs Christmas” debate once again ramps up. I suspect folks who are very canny marketers are behind it. How much money is made off those who get themselves all wrapped up in being mad at the color of a Starbucks cup, or what the clerk at their favorite store says during checkout? I suspect it’s quite a lot.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. No one but you can remove the meaning from your religious celebrations. No one but you can make choices that reflect your values. And no matter what the rest of the world does, you have the power to instill your every moment with meaning, to make every choice matter.
This year as fall fades into winter and your own particular holidays approach (whatever they are) I invite you into a celebration filled with meaning. I invite you to delve deep into your own traditions like a miner going after precious gems. Dig deep and find the gifts that are waiting in the traditions of your family, your spiritual community, and your culture. They are there, no matter how buried they might be by holiday fluff that doesn’t really matter.
Can you name the meaning of your holiday practices? If someone asked you right now what it is you celebrate and how your celebrations reflect what you deeply believe could you answer them? Today your
assignment is simple (but not so simple). Light a candle, sit quietly, and delve into meaning. Write out, in your own words, the meaning of your holiday and it’s traditions. Find the why buried in the chaos and stress.
Is that not easy? The world is arranged to make it that way. Keeping us stressed and overwhelmed and running makes us better customers. We’re more likely to spend what we don’t have on things we don’t really care about if we’re not thinking, if we’re not intentional or aware.
If you need some help this year taking back your Hanukah, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving from all the stress and pressure I invite you to join me on a journey. For the whole month of November you and others in this community can dig deep and get really intentional about what you believe and what you want this season. Spend four weeks together with over eighty pages of worksheets, exercises, and teaching to empower you to craft our most meaningful holiday yet.
And then all through December you’ll get followup support to keep you going and on track. And when it’s all over? We’ll look back and plan ahead so that next year and all the years to come can continue to grow more meaningful, more peaceful, and more joyful.
Interested? I hope you are. The invitation is open, and you are invited to your best and most meaningful holiday season.