My Kali under the tree
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday next Tuesday, there’s many ways to guarantee the day will be happier and more fulfilling. Five of those ways include:
- Do what you love to do. Whether it’s being at home with the whole family or working in a soup kitchen, if it’s driving to visit relatives or holed up in an intimate out-of-the-way B&B, be okay with your choice, even it it’s not what the majority of your family and friends are doing.
- Be okay with being alone. We love to rush in when we learn someone will be alone during the holidays, “Come to my house,” “Let’s do dinner.” But some people make the most of being alone, even on Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Some people love the luxury of a day alone, by themselves to do whatever they want — to eat non-traditional foods, binge-watch old movies, take a nap, play with a pet all day, and to perhaps stay in their PJ’s. When you hear someone will be by themselves, don’t automatically assume an invite to your place is the better option. Sure, offer if you think it’s what is desired, but don’t make someone feel bad if being alone is what they really want.
- Let go of your expectations. Part of what is uncomfortable about the holidays is the pile of expectations we create around what, when, where, and how. We carry over old traditions into new situations without consideration for their popularity or appropriateness with different people, and then we get upset or hurt when our way of doing things isn’t welcomed. Be open to new experiences. Be open regardless of your age. You’re never too old to try something new.
- Do for others. There is never a situation that isn’t improved by doing for others, and the holidays are no exception. Between now and next Tuesday, you can secretly pay off a layaway account as a surprise random act of kindness. You can be a Secret Santa and get a gift for a less fortunate child or family. The biggest increases in my happiness are when I can do or give without the recipient knowing I’m the giver.
- Get dressed up and go out. If a fancy meal or other expensive form of entertainment isn’t in your budget this year, if you don’t feel you can swing the cost of a dinner or holiday party, go out to be around the sights and sounds of the holidays. Get dressed up and go to the mall – yes, the crowded mall with its beautiful decorations and holiday music. And, since you’ve finished all your shopping, you can focus on the holiday joys without having to stand in line for service or to pay for purchases. Or drive down Christmas Lane where all the houses on the block are decorated cheerfully. Doesn’t every town have at least one Christmas Lane?
5+ Finally, you might find it really valuable to make a gratitude list. Acknowledge the bounty of your life … all the friends, family, and more than enough possessions that have brought you happiness throughout the year. Make your list as a reminder that the holidays aren’t about stuff, but are about seeing that we have enough of everything in order to be happy – both during the holidays and throughout the coming year.