Most of us are prone to high – if unrealistic – expectations and stress around the holiday season or about events on the specific holidays we celebrate. If you are someone who fits into this group with me, you might also worry your holiday might be disappointing or painful. Do you know what you are hoping for? Specifically?
It’s likely some aspects of your dream holiday are quite possible, but how will you know when they’ve come true? It’s simple:
Define your day. Make it so. Let it go.
Start by imagining your perfect day of the season. Perhaps it’s a day of self-care: healthy foods and meditation, followed by shopping and a meal with friends, dinner at home, and slippers and tea at night.
Perhaps it’s Christmas day: French toast and juice, stockings, travel to the in-laws’, a hearty meal, and kids sleeping in the car on the way home.
Define your day: If you can imagine it, you can make it (or at least key components of it) so.
Imagine: Close your eyes and breathe calmly for a few minutes. Next, imagine how your day begins, using all your senses. Is the house cool or warm when you awaken? Are you making coffee? What does that smell like? Any sounds? The spoon scraping the bowl of your oatmeal? The music in the background? What happens next? And then what? See yourself going through your ideal day, chronologically as you would in real life. Take your time and involve all your senses as much as possible. This can take five minutes or 105 minutes. There is no “correct” way of doing it and there is no “correct” amount of time.
If you can’t “see” it, maybe you can sketch it. Roughly - or with precision, your choice – sketch out the main parts of your ideal day. You can draw a chronological series of events, the way graphic novels are drawn. Maybe your dog is waking you in the morning. Sketch that. Is it snowing when you get up? Draw that.
If speaking is more your thing, try a speech to text app on your phone or computer. Or just record your thoughts and ideas about your ideal holiday and how it plays out, to listen to it later. Again, involve all your senses in your description.
Pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally, in your body and your heart. You will notice pieces that make you feel warm, perhaps smiling while thinking. That’s a cue to you that it’s an important component of your ideal holiday and something to manifest in reality.
Make it so: Include important pieces of what you imagined.
Something that makes me feel a sense of peace is thinking about taking a drive to see Christmas lights in people’s yards. So this would be a component I want to make sure to include when I plan my holiday events. It’s within my power to make this happen = good choice.
Something else that’s part of my ideal day is opening the doors of an advent calendar with my husband. This is also in my control, and I know I need to buy or make an advent calendar before December 1st.
If you find satisfaction telling your children the story of their first holiday or hosting wrapping or baking parties. What can you do, that is in your power, to make this happen?
Let it go: Leave out pieces beyond your control.
Let go of tasks and events that don’t bring you joy, don’t create joy for others, are more work than the potential joy they may deliver, or that just don’t fit in your ideal day. If that means spending a holiday away from family, read “Alone for the holidays,” for help managing and celebrating that.
Let others off the hook. You cannot control them. You can’t change their actions or moods. If you need something from them, and it’s part of your ideal day, you can ask them. But remember, their ideal day is probably not the same as yours.
Following the guidelines above, you can have a holiday closer to your dreams.
Define your day. Make it so. Let it go.
If your emotions feel too deep or too big, and you think you might want support during this holiday season, contact a therapist who can help you work them through.
What’s your ideal holiday day like? I’d love to hear. Post below and I’ll reply.
Thanks for reading, and be well. ~ Robin