I am struck by the number of friends who say they dread Christmas or get overwhelmed during the holidays.
For some, the holiday season brings up bad memories of the past, from childhood upbringing to the anniversary of a death. Christmas or any annual event that is meant to turn the memory of something good into a tradition can become a tradition of avoiding a memory of something bad. This will be the case for Christmas 2012 for far too many.
For others, it seems they infuse their holiday conversations with confessions of all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, card-writing, party-going, cooking, etc. that they want to do, do, do. Christmas becomes little more than an annual pressure-packed “Do” list. After all, you want to please.
There is a reason no one offers holiday greetings of “Guilt and remorse to all, and to all a sleepless night!” Isn’t there?
I do not belittle painful memories or those who own them. Grief is agonizing, especially when you have lost something you cannot replace. Conversely, I appreciate those who want everything to be “just right” for holiday celebrations, as long as preparations don’t erase any chance for real celebration. I would like to help people recognize they have a choice about how they feel and what they do about their circumstances, even in the wake of tragedy; even when feeling nothing sounds better than what they feel now. The path to joy may take many small steps.
This is merely prelude to my topic this week, which I will introduce in the form of a declaration I heard from a client last week:
“I know what I want to accomplish that week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.”
This can be a defining statement and a limiting declaration. This may be a familiar statement to many hard-working, driven professionals who have a hard time relaxing and carving out necessary “me time” or Sabbath time.
There is nothing wrong with being intentional about what you want to do during the holiday season or any other time. In fact, I encourage you to act with intention and purpose, even if your purpose is to relax with a glass of wine, meditate deeply for an hour, or jump in the car and just drive without care for a route or destination. Yes, it is possible to rest and even wander on purpose! I love to meander and do so with intention; it is often those times when I really find myself at The Intersection of Purpose and Now.
What do I want to accomplish; what do I want to do? Allowing a “Do” list to be your sole intention could leave you feeling incomplete, overwhelmed, even sad and grieving a festive season. So I encourage you to include these declarations in your holiday planning:
I know how I want to feel… (this Christmas)
I know who I want to be… (this Christmas)
I know where I want to serve… (this Christmas)
I know what I want to have… (that is non-material things, this Christmas)
How could your holiday traditions be different, or even more fulfilling, with these affirmations in addition to I know what I want to do…? How might they help you add a new layer of positive memories that eventually supersede the dreaded old ones? How might these additional distinctions lead to your greater happiness and sense of purpose year-round?
Schedule some time to “fill in the blanks” and complete each of these declarations for yourself.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas…may it be merry and bright!