Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This Holiday Season: Getting It Right

It's December 1st, the beginning of the holiday season. The winter holidays are not my favorite (Halloween has that top billing) but I used to love Christmas and all the family rituals. The last 10-15 years, however, I really haven't enjoyed the holidays as much as I used to. Everyone talks about the commercialization of Christmas, and I think, yes, it kind of bums me out. I get sick of the decorations and the pressure to buy the perfect gift, decorate the perfect tree, throw the perfect holiday party...the pressure for everything to be perfect. I felt very stressed out all month and was relieved when it was over. I ended up not doing the things I wanted to do, and really not enjoying any of it.

The past couple of years have taught me very clearly that nothing is perfect and to think it ought to be and to wish it were so, is just silly and a recipe for disappointment and frustration. How much nicer to just enjoy how things are. The same goes for the holidays. Last year was the worst holiday season of my entire life, but certain things were made very clear.

I enjoy: the tree and the accompanying decorations, a little bit of certain types of holiday music, a few holiday cookies, buying a few gifts for certain special people, going to holiday music events and seeing pretty decorations, and old Christmas TV specials. I also like doing a big "project" of some small crafty or baked goods gift to be given out at work and to friends. So those are the things I'm going to focus on this year. If I don't want to do something or if it makes me feel bad, I'm not going to do it. That way I'll have more energy to do the things I do want to do, with a full and happy heart.

I have a very very small shopping list and most of it is already done. Now I just get to do my favorite things: making cookies, decorating the tree, enjoying the lights and maybe getting out the keyboard and playing some favorite songs (my fingers are sure to be awfully rusty, but oh well). I'm going to try out some new cookie recipes and look up Oakland holiday music events. We'll have a small family party sometime during the month to see Terri's family. I'm looking forward to attending the Unitarian services this month and enjoying the full spectrum of holidays which occur in December. And mostly, I look forward to really having a good time and not being a grump. I'm surprised by my actual enthusiasm for the holidays this year and I think it's because I see very clearly what I want to do, and what I don't want to do, and I feel no guilt about not doing the things I don't want to do!

The past year has opened my eyes to a lot of things. How I look at money, how I look at myself and what I really want out of life. I expected this past year to be really hard and scary, and sometimes it was, but mostly, it was full of really good things, most of them small and not noticeable to most people, but very noticeable to me. I'm feeling pretty good right now. I feel very happy and secure, and optimistic, and full of hope and energy for doing the things I really want to do. I'm going to make next year even better, starting with this holiday season.


Barefoot_Mommy said...

I think that is wonderful! I had a horrible holiday season last year too, but it made me more aware and grateful for the good times in my life. Don't you just love growth of the spirit? I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. *Hugs*

Rachel Cotterill said...

I'm totally with you - I'd rather have happy imperfection. I learnt so much about this when I was getting married... you read so much about making it 'perfect', but we just wanted to make it happen!!

Maria Rose said...

I wish you a very happy holiday season. I agree that simplifying and focusing on those things that bring joy are so much more important that creating unnecessary pressures!

Daphne said...

Barefoot: growth is hard but good! Hope your season is wonderful as well.

Rachel: happy imperfection is about as good as it gets! Much better than perfection, which can be ruined at any moment... (congratulations!)

maria: thanks for stopping by! more joy is needed by everyone. your blog brings me joy! :)

Kate said...

Happy imperfection - what a great phrase. I'm going to hang on to that one.

I 100% agree with your holiday philosophy. Make it happy for you!

Stefanie said...

What a wonderful way to approach the holiday season! I think you have the right idea, fill it with all the things you love best and that make you happy. You must tell all about the cookies and take pictures so we can drool :)

Daphne said...

Kate: it could be a greeting, "Happy Imperfection!" I think that's new my motto.

Stef: yes, photos will come, and also a little special something in the mail! :)

Tammie said...

i love this post.

this year is the first year the family and i have celebrated christmas. (even though ive been away from my old religion for a while, ive never really felt like christmas was something i was comfortable with. it just never meant anything to me.)anyway because of that ive given A LOT of thought to how i want the holidays to be. i knew i didnt want to spend a lot of money and i knew i didnt want to feel obligated to do things. (it seems as if holidays come with a lot of obligations that put strain and stress on people.) i dont want this month to be miserable. so, i have a plan but its loose and we'll see how it goes.

oh, and on christmas afternoon, im totally ditching my kids to go see an Alec movie. and i dont feel guilty.

Daphne said...

Tammie: I was wondering if you were going to celebrate Christmas... I'll be curious how you plan to celebrate, what you plan to include. You might think about doing some Solstice stuff as well, if you are leery of too much Christianity. So many of the traditional Christmas rituals have interesting pagan (or other religious) roots and I find that makes it richer for me.