It can be all too easy to let your holidays be hijacked by your To-Do list.
Wait... what... it's all over? I missed it??
That was me, more times than I care to think about. I could never quite get my footing. The close of every year felt like I was racing to some gold-encrusted finish line, only to discover that I'd misunderstood the assignment.
When it comes to the holidays, it truly is all about the journey.
This year, I am choosing a different path. This year, I am welcoming a holiday season that is meaningful, joyful and fun!
Will you join me?
If you haven't already performed the exercises in Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1: How to Start the Season with Comfort and Joy, I encourage you to do so now. When you have finished, you will have a beautiful new vision of how you want your holiday season to unfold.
Let's pause right now and wallow in a little holiday spirit. If your vision is written down, take a look at it. Read it out loud. If not, just take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and picture the season as you want it to be.
Have a full-blown, Technicolor daydream. Look around a bit. What are you doing? Who is there? How does it feel, spending the holidays with people that you love?
Oops. I gave it away.
The secret to making your holidays more meaningful is to make them all about connections.
Yes, there is a place for tradition and ritual. Just ask my kids about me and my Christmas tree. I seriously considered putting it up right after Halloween, but I was afraid all the lights would burn out before December rolled around.
It's bad enough that it stays up until just before Easter most years.
The thing is, traditions are mostly about reminding us of our connections. Our roots. Our people.
My Christmas tree is decorated with red and green plaid, lace-trimmed fans hand-made by my mother. They are mixed in with hand-painted stars and teddy bears created by my children, along with a slew of gifts from other family and friends. Each comes out of the box with a memory attached.
Yes, there is a place for holiday activities and we will talk about them in Step 3 (coming soon!) Step 2 is all about the people...
Your loved ones: The folks who know you best, challenge you the most and attach themselves to your holiday hopes and memories.
I promised in Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1 that this would be an enjoyable process. Let's keep it going...
Step 2: Connect with Others to Fill Your Season with Meaning and Love
Are you ready? It's time to identify your "loved ones." These would be the people who bring meaning to your life. The people that lift you up and make your world a brighter place.
The people you want to connect with during the holidays.
Start by taking your journal and making a list of all the people that you want to interact with over the next two months. Group them into three categories...
- People that you want to see face-to-face and spend measurable time with.
- People that you want to connect with verbally and have an actual conversation with.
- People that you want to touch base with -- perhaps via card or email -- to share news and send love and encouragement.
Wow. Doesn't that feel good, just writing them down? Look at all the wonderful people in your life!
I invite you to take a moment now and say a brief prayer of thanksgiving for these friends and family. They are your tribe, your support team, your teachers and your playmates. Yay, all of you!
Okay, we're not done yet. Now I want you to go back and look at your list again. The goal is to make some thoughtful adjustments to maximize your holiday bliss potential. Try asking yourself these questions:
- In this season of giving, is there anyone that you feel called to reach out to? Do you have an estranged family member, elderly neighbor or local shelter that you've been wanting to connect with?
- Is there anyone that you placed on your list out of habit or obligation? Perhaps someone you have grown away from, who would be equally happy to release the tie and move on?
- Do you want to move any of the people on your list from one category to another? Who do you most want to spend time with this year?
A gentle reminder: We have not yet learned how to bend time and space. (At least, I haven't.) If you have placed every single person that you know on your list, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and exhaustion.
Focus on making Category 1 just the right size. These are the people that make you feel warm and fuzzy when you are with them.
Category 2 is for your girlfriend who lives across the country, whose phone call the day before Thanksgiving makes everything special. Or your son in the Marines, who will have time for exactly one Skype session that you cannot miss.
How many people can you comfortably move to Category 3?
It's okay to let some people gracefully drop off your list. This is about quality more than quantity. We want to be present during the holidays. We want the people that we spend time with to feel our loving attention.
Now, put your list aside for awhile. The very act of completing this exercise has sent loving attention winging across the universe to those you care about. In a day or two, take another look at it. Make adjustments if you wish, or just say another prayer.
And watch for Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 3... coming soon!
Meg Brown is a Certified Professional Coach, former corporate executive and mother to two teenaged sons. Meg specializes in coaching passionate parents and professionals who seek to make the most of their midlife journey at www.ElevateYourLifeCoaching.com. Contact her today, your first coaching session is Free!