This time of year – a time of joy and excitement. Friends and families come together to celebrate and share in the season. Anticipation is high for the most wonderful time of year.
During this time of year things often get harried and frenetic for people. There’s lots of rushing about and things to check off our lists. I notice the simplest task of grocery shopping becomes a full contact sport. You are ducking and diving around other shoppers and trying to get to the finish line & out the door as fast as you can.
This time of year, the proverbial bear within all of us is often poked. We either find ourselves roaring in anger at the pokee or crying into our large, double, on the rocks, glass of acceptance. This time of year can be challenging or leave you exhausted. Most likely both.
I’ve got a large family and I’ve always loved getting everyone together. Even though the holiday would often result in a panicky anxious feeling in my chest, which was always resolved by drinking way to much red wine. Last year I found myself crying the day after the holiday. I had overextended myself by inviting everyone over for Christmas Day dinner. We were also in the middle of packing and moving out of our loft. The day after I had a pile of resentments as high as the pile of boxes set aside for our impending move. Why had I invited everyone over especially when I was in the midst of a move?
Well because I felt I should do it. No one else had volunteered and we always got together. If no one else did it would it just not happen? What would happen if we didn’t get together? Would that be okay?
We have so many expectations and hopes this time of year. We want a storybook celebration. We want every childhood hope fulfilled in our adult bodies. Or we try and relive our own childhoods through our children. As we gather together as family, all of those childhood insecurities rise back up within us. Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher, once said, “If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family”.
This time of year is about finding the light in the darkness. The winter solstice on December 22nd is the shortest day of the year, with the least amount of light in the Northern Hemisphere but also reminds us that we are returning to the light. Jesus is called “the light of the world” and many people celebrate his birth on December 25th. Our families help us with both the light and the dark. They’re there to poke our buttons and insist we grow. This is the hard yet rewarding stuff (the dark). But family can also be a source of love and support (the light). Our families will test us (the dark) and it’s our job as enlightened beings to see around that to the light. See the love. See the soul of the person.
Seeing our family as love, light and beautiful souls isn’t always easy to do especially when we’re feeling pressed and pushed to do this and that and we are getting caught up in shoulds. So, this holiday season, perhaps you can reflect on what you are choosing to do and with whom, and ask yourself, “Do I want to do this or do I think I should do this?” If the answer is “I should do it,” than dig deeper and ask yourself why. Are you doing it because you love someone? Are you doing it because you are lending support to someone that needs you? Or are you doing it out of obligation or guilt? Ask yourself the questions and when you hear the answer, ask yourself if you’re okay with it. Are you okay with doing something out of love? What about obligation? If the answer is yes than put aside your expectations that it might be different. Accept it for what it is. Then put a boundary in place to take care of yourself. If you have to do it, what boundary will allow you to meet your obligation but take care of yourself? For example, maybe you put an end time around the event you’re hosting. Or, if you’re going to someone else’s house, give yourself a set amount of time to be there that allows you to participate fully while knowing your own limits. You don’t have to have another event booked or an appointment scheduled to say, “I need to go”. You don’t need to explain yourself. Your other event or appointment is with you. That’s enough.
When you take care of yourself this holiday season, you might just get an entirely different experience. You might experience joy, excitement, love, and light – the emotions you really want to experience.