During this time of year, we can all sense some degree of inner calling, whispering to us to slow down during the holidays; to connect with ourselves, with our families and with each other. With each holiday, it seems harder and harder to answer this call.
Every year, I hear “Christmas came early this year”, or “I can’t believe it is Christmas already”. We read and talk about ways to slow the pace, and at times, we even feel guilty for speeding past another holiday yet again. How many of us can actually escape the fast paced holiday, and tune into our inner calling for a simplified season?
Like every one around me, I get caught up in this whirlwind too, and every year I set a new intention to honor Christmas in a deeper way. It doesn’t always work out perfectly…and that is okay. This year I keep tuning in and asking myself what I would like to create for myself and my family – the answer that comes up, is a deeper connection; a deeper bond. And that will only happen if I intentionally make time for it. Great! How do I find more time in the midst of all else on the holiday “to do” list?
Create Your Holiday Experience
In order to create the Christmas I am picturing, I have to actually schedule it. It may seem hard to believe, but it will hardly overwhelm a full calendar – and at the end of the day, this part of a schedule will have more value than most other items. What I’ve chosen, is to dedicate at least 15 minutes to myself and my family, for every day that leads up to Christmas. All four of us choose what we would like to do during the next few days. Yesterday we set up our tree, the day before we decorated the exterior of our home, and today we begin decorating the tree together. Some of our future plans are to write a X-mas list for Santa, make gifts for our teachers, and make a gingerbread house. Miixed in somewhere I also include a few minutes of cozy time, so that we can read a holiday book by the tree, play a board game, or just be together and notice what comes up.
All these plans take just a few minutes a day, and yet they create a foundation and bond that will last a lifetime. It is challenging to fulfill on these plans during a work week, and if a day passes when we were not able to enjoy them, we put them in place for the next day. This way there is integrity, and meaning around what we are creating for ourselves and the holiday.
Simple Gift Giving
I am often asked what I do when it comes to giving gifts. We have a large family, and I can never take away gift giving from our loved ones. In my family, the idea behind gifts is quality and necessity, instead of quantity and clutter. A few months before the holidays, if my children ask for anything, I remind them that we will soon create a gift list for everyone, and we can include what we would like on it. We add everything from socks, bed sheets, and winter boots, to a toy they’ve been interested in for months.
We also enjoy giving gifts that don’t take up much room, and are practical, such as gift certificates. If I am purchasing gift items however, I now have the luxury to shop from home like everyone else. I shop online after my children are asleep, and enjoy many of the cyber deals and free shipping that’s available. When I do have to go out to shop, I create a list, and map out the stores with the attempt to get it all done in one day.
We also like to give to charities. My children love this, (and so do I since I was a kid). Yesterday, my children picked an item for the Toy’s for Tots box located in our mayor’s office. Our post office also has “Operation Santa” which has boxes full of wish lists from children. We’ve enjoyed reading their Santa letters and gifting them clothing and other necessities. There is an endless amount of organizations that you can give to, and this is something that feels deeply good to little ones. Pick a few that you can present to your children, and have them choose which one they would like to give to.
Simple Holiday Dinner
Our family celebrates Christmas in 2 locations – my aunt’s house and grandma’s house. Both families have found ways to enjoy this celebration in a way where they are not exhausted after a big holiday party. My aunt has the option of having her friend/chef cater the entire dinner. He comes to her house in the morning and cooks up amazing gourmet meals; grandma’s is a potluck – she has a big enough family where we all cook at least one meal and bring it over. We then take a plate home, and the following day, we relax knowing that we don’t have to cook for an entire day. Sweet!
Connecting with the Holiday Spirit
Throughout the years, Christmas has taken on many meanings – from the nativity of Christ, to gift giving, to dinner with family, tree decorating, lights, cards and christmas parties. With all the commercialization around us, we can still tap into the spirit of the holiday. It is a time to tune into the light within that shines during the winter darkness. It is a time for quiet, to reflect and to open our hearts to others.
We can all put a plan in place when it comes to this time of year, so that we have the opportunity to absorb the true meaning of the season. Even just one action matters. To read one quote, go to a carol sing, or at least one meditation a week to ground into the spirit that is here, allows the possibility of connection. Connection for ourselves, our families and one another.
Listen to what your soul is truly asking for during this time of year. Honor the request, and your holiday will be much warmer and fulfilling. It will be a time for you to look back to, and feel good about the way you celebrated it. Enjoy all this brings!
Wishing you all Peace, Love and Light,