So here we are, entering the holiday season.
I love this time of year. Maybe it’s because I’m a December baby? I don’t know. But I love it. I love the general feeling of calm. I love the smell in the air. I love the time spent with family.
I know, though, that this isn’t always the most favorite time of the year for everyone.
Some people are missing loved ones.
Others have not had positive memories of the holiday season and they relive it each year.
Still others are wishing that they had someone with whom to curl up when the temperatures drop (I hear the young people call this “cuffing season”).
Anyway, whether this is your absolute favorite time of the year or if you find yourself limping through the season, it’s worth taking some time to reframe the season so that, even if you never become the Queen o’ the Holidays, this is a time that can at least deliver the occasional warm fuzzy.
Here are three tips to get you to and through the coming holiday season:
Tip #1: Create new traditions
Sometimes one of the hardest things about getting through a holiday without a loved one can be missing out on traditions or feeling their absence when you keep the tradition.
For some people, keeping a tradition makes them keep the memory of their loved ones close and for others, it just makes them feel the absence more.
All traditions start somewhere.
If you are in the second camp, try creating new traditions. You can go completely away from what you used to do or you can find creative ways to keep your original tradition. Either way, this is a healthy way of coping.
New traditions are also great for single folks or new families/relationships, giving you a chance to create something that is uniquely yours to share with a new love or 3-5 of your best single friends!
Here, feel free to think outside the box, and you don’t have to think too hard.
A couple of years ago, Pam’s parents and mine weren’t available to come to our traditional Christmas meal as usual. Having the parents out of the equation – and their expectation of a more traditional holiday meal – Pam and I decided to make Spanish tapas (our fave), and a new tradition was born. We make our favorite tapas every year now and our families join us.
Tip #2: Get started early
I know. Lots of people make this plan every year.
If you are “lots of people,” then, this year, actually do it!
A lot of holiday stress is about feeling like you have sooooo much to do at exactly the time when other things demand even more of your time (office holiday party, anyone?).
Start shopping for gifts now. Start planning your meal now. Decorate now, before it becomes yet another thing on a long list of things you have to do. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a few extra weeks of holiday decor?
Also, use whatever resources you have to get it all done. Have your friends and family fill out their Amazon wishlists. It’ll save you the guessing game and you can just check out.
So many grocery stores offer curbside pick up now; you can start filling your virtual shopping cart now and check out when you’re ready. It might cost a small fee but if you can afford it, the nerves you save might be your own.
Tip #3: Focus on the Important Stuff
Food. Gifts. Decorations.
All of that gets so much of our attention and energy and none of it matters.
Holidays are about friends and family and the moment. If you are a religious person, then the “moment” is also about the religious significance.
When you take the time to really re-frame how you look at the holidays, then it will become a bit easier to deal with that ridiculous relative who always has something to say about you or your choices, or to manage your first holiday without a loved one.
After all, even without them physically there, the moment remains and can still be special to you. You can write a new holiday story in which your missed loved one is simply in it in a different way.
I once watched a movie where a character who couldn’t afford to buy gifts for her children said they “wouldn’t have Christmas.” Well, Christmas comes with or without gifts. You can’t stop it. But you can miss it if you’re focused on the wrong things.
Happy Holiday season!