What Will You Make of the 2015 Holiday Season?

Here come the holidays, and it’s about this time that friends start asking, “So, what are you guys doing this year?” Over time my answer to that question has gotten simpler.

Will you rule the season or will it rule you?

Take a moment to think of past years. Were those times characterized predominantly by stress?  By overdoing, overspending, overeating – over everything? Or, were you able to feel true fellowship and joyous celebration?

It’s been a mixed bag for me over the years. When I was younger I went full tilt, generally putting my well-being behind the needs of others, and I’m not sure anyone was the better for it. One year I got sick and wasn’t able to do anything. That experience led me to take a closer look at doing less and appreciating simplicity more. Side note:  whenever I get sick, it’s usually a sign I’m overdoing or doing something I’d rather not. I’ve learned that about myself.

As I’ve aged, it’s been my desire to keep the holiday season simple, quiet and uncomplicated.

It’s easier to focus on the true fellowship of the holidays by reducing the number and size of activities between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Yes, we still put up decorations but not a cabillion. Usually our (fake) tree takes center stage and perhaps a centerpiece for the table, but that’s it. Rod may put up lights around the front door but only if he feels like it and if the weather cooperates.

We’re not big gift givers either. There’s nothing we need so don’t get us something that might be wasted. This practice has been a relief to the kids who no longer have to spend time and money on something that might not be fully appreciated. Our gift to them is to do things with and for them throughout the year.

No one looks to me to put on a huge spread or give the perfect gift or organize a special holiday event and that’s okay.

It’s good to keep it simple and do what feels most comfortable.

Some people have difficulty breaking the habit of the over-the-top approach to the holidays that is taxing in so many ways. It’s a drastic step, but what might happen if you visualize this as your last holiday season with family and friends? You probably wouldn’t waste time cooking or shopping or spending time on inconsequential activities. I bet it’d be pretty easy to put in and get out of it all that you hoped it’d be without the unnecessary fuss.

Keeping in simple helps the focus remain on fellowship and time spent with friends and family. Isn’t that what’s it’s really all about? We can be there for our relatives and friends by being relaxed, by contributing but not taking on too much, by playing with that precious grandchild or by listening to that relative who needs an attentive ear.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is to ease off.

So, this year, instead of preparing for the season with a mile-long To Do list and a calendar that’s filled with one too many things, how about you ask: “How can I express the true meaning of these holidays?” I bet you’ll discover lots that you can do to change things up, to make this year different — to just breathe so that this season is more relaxing and enjoyable, not only for you but for all of those you hold dear. Now, doesn’t that sound like a holiday to remember?

Contact me at Antonia@TheJoyofAgingGratefully.com