If there is a silver lining in 2020, and I do actually think there are a few among the chaos that’s ensued, it would be that we can use this year to update some of our traditions for the holidays. Those age old traditions unique to our family that no one understands or enjoys but yet we do them every single year. Maybe they do add a bit of nostalgia to the holiday but in a year with so much turmoil I think it’s the perfect way to rethink our holidays with the general rule that if it doesn’t feel good don’t do it, don’t eat it, don’t put it out there, and don’t follow it.
It is good to have some traditions. They remind us of loved ones no longer with us, good memories and they seem to give some structure to our holidays. There’s nothing wrong with these traditions as they can create for us that sense of comforting home that we all occasionally need. However, most of us didn’t come from traditional families. Some have endured abuse, fighting, violence, hurtful gossip, excessive drinking and other really uncomfortable situations. These families too have traditions but they are ones that we feel obligated and burdened to follow.
They don’t fill our soul with the looking forward to seeing everyone kind of feelings.
Holidays are tough for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons but sometimes our own expectations and pressured obligations create even more stress during this time. We feel this big uncomfortable meal with family that fights all the time or pushes their political agenda on us that we don’t agree with just to say we spent time with them during the holidays. We did what is society accepted for the way holidays should be spent. I don’t know about you but being miserable seems anti-holiday. Being in unsafe situations or feeling on the verge of anger or tears is not much fun either.
So, with everything that has gone on in 2020 I think it’s time we also address these holidays. I don’t suggest using the virus as a get out of going card but that we actually use it as a launch to change this year and all the years that follow. We let go of these traditions and obligations that don’t fill us once and for all and stop feeling guilty about it. Wouldn’t that feel incredible? Let those jingle bells start ringing!
Our health, physically and emotionally are impacted by the stressful situations we put ourselves in. When we are being drained by these circumstances we are letting our immunity down and threatening our well-being. When we put ourselves in unsafe and abusive situations that multiples these effects to our health. It can take a long time to recover from these exposures. For example, walking by a perfume counter in the store may give us a temporary headache from the aromas. Those perfumes contain a lot of chemicals that interact with our cells weakening them. The headache is our body’s SOS call that we’re in a situation that is a threat to our health. The same happens with our emotional response system. Over time these exposures both physical and emotional weaken our ability to stay healthy and make it harder to recover.
When it comes to family that is a tough one because we can have very strong feelings of obligation, duty, standards and traditions that tell us we should love our family regardless of what they do. We can endure it because they are family and we’re supposed to love them. Yet this often means we put up with some very unpleasant and sometimes unsafe situations as a result. We let bad behavior and manners, lack of respect, and more go unchecked. We let it come around us like chemical perfume permeating our cells leaving us feeling bad with a headache and low energy. WHY? You’ve probably asked yourself that a million times. We all do and then we go through it again anyway giving ourselves the lame line that they are family and we’ll miss them when they’re gone and it’s only a couple hours.
First, if that situation is unsafe, abuse physically or emotionally then don’t do it anymore. It doesn’t matter if it is family or not. You don’t deserve that. Having come from an abusive family I can tell you spending a holiday by yourself sucks but it is a whole lot more pleasant than the abuse and violence. You can make a pretty spectacular day being by yourself on a holiday too. Get with friends, watch movies in your pjs, buy yourself a couple really nice gifts you want, take a trip, whatever but give yourself the gift of safety and peace this year. Promise yourself that and deliver on it.
Now for the other situations where it’s just unpleasant, a chore, boring, or just awkward and odd, I have a couple suggestions. First, I think we owe it to ourselves to be ourselves. Lay the groundwork early like setting ground rules about not politics or other topic of sensitivity being discussed. That may mean there’s some awkward lulls in conversations but if you tell people in advance they can think about something else to contribute. Change the vibe of the whole thing if you need by suggesting or just doing it. Change the location, change the dishes that are served, the format of gift exchanges and anything else that isn’t working for you. It’s ok to tell others how you feel about something and suggest changes.
Be forewarned you could get some pushback. Not everyone is going to agree with you but keep in mind that some of this is because people don’t like change and secondly maybe it means something to them. Learn about that and see if you can see if from their viewpoint. Talk through it and see if there’s a compromise. The point is to talk about things though and not just suck it up and get through it another year feeling like crap afterwards and wishing for something better. You deserve a good holiday too but sometimes we have to create that.
While it can be difficult to bring it up and talk about it, I’m telling you it is worth it. It is honoring your needs and creating possibilities for you to have your heart filled with holiday joy as much as we try to do it for others. It is important to feel that joy as much as possible in our life because it reminds of us our purpose, restores and gives us hope and strengthens us to go through years like 2020. It heals us from when the world has knocked us down. We need it. We really need it after this year too. Experiencing it is as natural as breathing air. We cannot continue to surround ourselves with toxicity and expect it to miraculously happen either. It occurs most easily when we create the setting for it and allow it to unfold in and around us.
A bright natural holiday is where we feel at peace, we feel hope restored in our heart and are ready to look forward into our future. We can see the good in ourselves and others. We generate and spread happiness by giving each other a smile, hug or distance if they need. We give of ourselves in a positive way that doesn’t drain us but lifts us up in the act of service and human connection as much as it does the other person. It is not expected or obligated but rather freely given and shared. We honestly get more of that good feeling the more we share what we have too. This is all natural and the true feeling of the holidays that too many of us don’t get enough of. We dread the holidays for several reasons instead of letting this brightness sink into us and refuel us. This year let go of the burden, obligation and expectations and simply focus on this instead. It is what living naturally well feels like and you can add some essential oils instead of the perfume to make it smell good too!
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