When holidays roll around and we start thinking of how things have been or should be, then the things that are “missing” seem to be have a greater impact. As our lives change, sometimes it can be nice to make changes that help us accommodate. Sometimes we just need to make the changes so that they fit the lives that we have.
In an effort to alleviate some of the holiday stress one of the things that we should be doing is modifying the old norms so that they fit in our environment. One of the greatest gifts in the human lifespan is out ability to grow. And as we grow, we evolve and change. Some the things that used to work for us won’t always be right for us. We have to also take notes of the differences in each of our situation and stop trying to have these “traditional” experiences that really are what work for certain people and not necessarily including us. When you are not able to successfully recreate these norms and traditions, suddenly the season may seem less fulfilling. You find yourself busier trying to get these things right than you have time to really partake in and enjoy the moment. That’s not what the season is about. In fact it’s more like opposite of it.
My task to you this year is to challenge the norms that you have been trying to attain. The perfect holiday is the one you enjoy the most. Traditions all start that one time when someone did something that worked so well for them that they wanted to recreate it again and again. So if the traditions that were started by other are causing you more stress than time to fully engage in the holiday joy, maybe you need to start new traditions that will work just as well- if not even better- in your present life situation.
If you search throughout the world, you will find that the holiday norms and traditions vary vastly. The other thing that you will notice is that people are all very pleased with the level of satisfaction that they get from their norms because they work for them. When I was a child in Haiti, there was no sending Santa letters to ask for what I wanted. When I awoke in the morning I was always super exited to see what Santa brought. The not knowing was even a part of the excitement. I might have asked for the bike, doll house, dolls and some of the other things that I got, I would have never thought to ask for sweets, but Dear Santa knew I had 20 sweet teeth and took care of that too. I was excited about everything I got. Now kids (my mom did that with my younger siblings in Boston too) ask Santa for things and when they don’t get something they wanted, it’s like everything else is suddenly devalued. For me, that seems crazy- Just as I’m sure the way my mom did it may seem crazy to some.
People are different and their differences are celebrated throughout the world. We need to realize that even within our local communities, society and even families, there are still differences that exist. Those differences are to be embraced and celebrated in what we do and including how we celebrate. So instead of looking at things that may be lacking in how your holidays this year when compared to expected norms, let’s focus on redefining the norm.
Here are a few starter questions to get you started:
What do I think of when I think of celebration?
What makes me happy?
What resources around me can I use to bring me joy?
Remember, it’s not about how it’s been done or how it’s done. It’s about how you do it.
I am Dr. Judi Cinéas (DrJudiC) the founder of Living The Dream, an organization providing Counseling, Life Empowerment and Motivational Coaching in Palm Beach, FL. With many years of experience as a psychotherapist, I use my counseling skills to help…