Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holidays: 1. Prepare Yourself

Some holidays tend to loom large in our lives. They are a mixed bag, filled with anticipation, excitement, and deep contentment, as well as trepidation, dread, and bitter disappointment. Where each of us is on the scale of satisfaction depends on a complicated mix of our personal history, present circumstance, experience, expectation, and basic personality.
How are you feeling about the next big holiday headed your way - looking forward to it or just not wanting to deal with it in any way, shape, or form? In the midst of all the hubbub of this time of year, take the time to think of how you feel about it - that's the place to begin...

Here's a challenge for you - for us all. Imagine the next major holiday (In my case that is Christmas...) WITHOUT any "selling factors" of it at all. I'm quite serious about this - no radio, TV, or computer ads, no extra flyers in the newspapers, no huge sales in the stores, nor people in furry costumes waving to you from the street corners. No one telling you what to buy, give, bake, decorate, ask for or expect to receive. No one telling you how to feel. In your mind, take away all of those outside influences, and then ask yourself: "What does this holiday mean to me? What do I want it to mean? What can I do to zero in on this meaning for myself and those near and dear to me?"
Over the years, I have done this and in the process have discovered how I feel about and what expectations I have for celebrating each special holiday. Some years have been better than others, but I've found that focusing on what really matters to me and my family enables us to pretty much disregard the projected expectations so flaunted by the various media of the day.

There can be a wide gap between expectations and reality. Some years I have taken on way too much in the way of holiday activities and preparations, only to arrive at the day exhausted and out-of-sorts. Other times, I have spent more than was in the holiday budget, only to regret it later when the bills came due. I have felt down and in no mood to celebrate due to personal loss or been disappointed in others' holiday behaviors, expecting much more of them than they were able to give.

With time - and experience - I've learned that although there is much in life that I cannot control, I can adjust my own thinking and behavior. This is a well-known fact bantered about by the self-help gurus, but it can be quite a challenge to achieve. It also works!
It hasn't always been easy. There are times when I do sit on the "pity pot" and ruminate about all the ills that come my way - until I think of those who have it worse. Much worse. This minor shift in my thinking becomes a major factor in how I view my own life and the approaching holiday season.
To me, Christmas is about LOVE and GIVING - period. I have become very intentional in everything I do to prepare for this special time of year and remind myself of this often. Family, friends, personal beliefs, giving as much and as often as we can to those who are in need - that's how we celebrate.
Once again, I am adjusting my attitude and appraising my expectations. I will not waste precious time and energy on things I can do nothing about. I will concentrate on what I think really matters and disregard the rest.
Our December calendar is full - there are times set aside for regular commitments and "have-tos", times for gathering with dear friends to visit, discuss, and share, times to attend a few events specific to this season. There are also plenty of "blank" spaces - time to spend at home getting ready by decorating, baking, and making some special gifts. We only do what we want to do and truly believe in. Some of those times definitely include getting mentally and spiritually prepared.
Christmas comes, whether we're ready or not. Its preparation begins on the inside of each of us and works its way out from there.

Holidays: 2. Figure It Out


  1. I was waiting for you to post something about the holidays, and I love what you've done here. I totally agree with you, although I have to remind myself every year to stop getting stessed about the material parts. What's up with the jeans?

  2. Thanks, Sherrie - I work on this every year. It can be an uphill battle with all the "Outside pressures" to buy, buy, buy. And the jeans? Glad you noticed. Stay tuned - I did say.."to be continued", so you shall see all in good time!

  3. Ladybug, thank you for this! It is well thought out and well written and a wonderful reminder of what is really important! For me this holiday is about family as we try to get all of us together for the first time in 10 years! All of my kids are coming "home" except we are still waiting to hear if the youngest will get leave from the army to come home. That is all I want for Christmas!

    Merry Christmas to you and thank you for your kind comment on my Poet Tree blog!

  4. i can totally agree with you, and what the commenters have already said.
    a wonderful post.
    christmas has just become so commercial.
    TOO commercial.
    it's NOT....shouldn't be...about spending.
    it's the feeling. in the heart, from the heart.
    giving. caring.