Pssst, you! Yes, I mean you! Sit down for a second. Yes, I know you’re too busy to sit. Please sit down anyway, this will only take a couple of minutes of your very valuable time. I don’t want to take something from you, I want to give you something. Something for FREE; it won’t cost you a red cent trimmed in white fur. You know how you secretly feel that everyone just wants another piece of real estate from you and that you’re completely tapped out, done like dinner, cooked, and royally finished and the flippin’ holidays aren’t even here yet? I hear ya, been there and also done that!
Perhaps you’ve started a list as long as both of your arms that extends around your back. May be everything you touch seems to turn to hampster droppings, and you have so little time, and you promise yourself that next weekend you’ll get to the baking, buying presents, wrapping, or planning that holiday feast that you’re hosting, again, this year for your not-so-beloved-in-laws.
Perhaps you’re in charge of the mashed potatoes and you just can’t figure out how you’re going to get showered, dressed and fully coiffed, while also trying to get your tired, cranky kids beautified and into the car without any premeditated murders occurring. Did I mention that you also forgot that you’re out of butter for those scrumptious mashed potatoes? You had one simple job and now you feel like a Christmas failure.
Every year, you commit to making hard, fast, reliable plans not to end up in this Christmas state of chaos where you’re craving a rubber room to express all those pent-up feelings. Perhaps you promised yourself to cut down on family obligations, attending office parties with a plastic smile on your face, or perhaps you stated emphatically that you would not rely so heavily on alcohol or other substances, just to see you through this nightmare from Christmas hell again this year. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you some coping strategies in a second.
But, have I got your number? Is Christmas killing you? Are you ready to truly burn the lists and trust that you’re enough just as you are?
Whoops, hang on there a second, perhaps, go back and read that last sentence. Rewind, breathe and slowly, very slowly, yes, while breathing, slowly read … I mean really take in the sentence before the last one… “ARE YOU READY TO TRULY BURN THE LISTS AND TRUST THAT YOU’RE ENOUGH JUST AS YOU ARE?”
Let’s just say for a second that the essence that is you, yes, at your very core is … well … a brand new infant. A sacred little baby Jesus if you will. Think about it, Mary and Joseph sat down with their new little God-imbued bundle of joy and received gifts, food and adoration for their new little man. Some folks had followed a star all through the night just to get a glimpse of the son of God. Let’s say this holographic essence is buried at your core and it is your job to back the superficial Christmas machine off in order to honour it? One job, that’s it! One very wise business coach once said to me, “Ally! The word “NO” is a complete sentence!” I never forgot that one either.
If you really study the reason that we’re all together, then do we really need all the lights, trees, presents, Who-ville machinations or can we really grow our heart for ourselves twice as big this year and look after ourselves? I recall a modern dancer friend that I had who had a very thick schedule of rehearsal and performances. I asked her if she, and her boyfriend, would like to come over for Christmas tea and cookies one afternoon during the holidays. She looked at me with her beautiful face and said, “Ally I don’t know. It will depend on how I feel that day. If I’m well rested and can engage out of love in the moment, then I would love to spend time with you guys. As close friends, I’m asking you to have tolerance for my need for spontaneity.”
I’ve never forgotten that moment either. In that moment, she gave me unbridled permission to stand up for myself and be able to do the exact same thing. I began to learn to nourish myself, let go of obligatory traditions, and cut myself a whole ton of slack. Over the years, it has built an inner trust and faith, a self-protective gesture towards myself. It’s like saying, “I gotcha,” in my own ears and who doesn’t need to hear that every few hours through the crazies of the holidays?
Let’s say that you let folks know that you’d love to consider any invitation received on the day of the event to determine whether you’ll be able to attend out of love, or let go of it, also out of self-love. Let’s say on the 24th, you just want to stay home in your jammies, read a book, eat mashed potatoes without the butter. Let’s say protecting that wee infant at your core means that you want to watch old black and white Christmas movies the whole of Christmas Day and postpone that family potluck until the 26th on Boxing Day, instead, when you and the kids are better rested and can truly enjoy yourselves. Per- haps it’s time you started new traditions where family came over in their jammies to your place, let go of the gifts and wrote one really meaningful stanza (you know poetry!) for each member of the family in a poem instead? What gold nuggets of wisdom can your inner wiseman dream up to help you not just stay sane, but fall in love with your newly protected and cherished internal infant?
Let’s be honest and list the 10 things that you’d rather be doing, and rather than lying through your teeth, hating your spouse and their family, that this year, you give yourself permission to go solo or even perhaps stay at home? A sore bulging disk in your back is actually really hard for others to verify. White lies can blanket your Christmas with self-protection until you grow the courage to be more forthright with regards to your needs. Let your partner know that you’re afraid to break with tradition, but that you’d like to give it a try this year so that you have more preserved for yourself and for greater intimacy with them and your children when they get back home.
So perhaps open a doorway of space and time for yourself to receive the true gift of Christmas. Here are 10 healthy, fulfilling things you can engage with over the holidays out of self-love instead of attending that obligatory traditional event that makes you feel stressed and frazzled, like last year’s tangled Christmas lights.
- Stay in bed, have a pajama day with just yourself, your partner and/or your kids. Only get up to put the kettle on again for another cup of tea.
- Take a long, hot bath by candle light with your favorite music.
- Write a poem about how you’re fanning the embers of your essential self and what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.
- Put on some Christmas music and sing and dance with complete abandon like no one can hear.
- Watch “A Christmas Carol,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “The Bishop’s Wife,” “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” all in one day in your jammies.
- Sleep all day, only get up to give food to the dog and your kids and make sure everyone pees and hamster poops in the appropriate place and then go back to bed.
- Read Christmas classics in bed to yourself or your kids.
- Learn the art of meditation …Om!
- Mindfully forgive yourself and everyone you’ve been secretly harboring grudges towards all year long — replace that new, open vacuous space in your heart with gratitude.
- Spend the whole afternoon making love with your beloved.
- Do none of the above following only what moves you in the moment while creating more space for you to simply breathe.
Merry Christmas to you all … and to all a blessed good night!