There are two kinds of people: people who love the holidays, and people who hate the holidays.
My Aunt Rose, at least in my mind, is the perfect example of someone who LOVES the holidays. On Oct 31st when the last "trick-or-treater" is off her porch, Aunt Rose gleefully begins unpacking her Christmas decorations. The sheer volume of decorations she has in storage ensures she starts on November 1st to get done in time for Thanksgiving. Aunt Rose takes super-excellent care of her Christmas decorations. She has used THE VERY SAME artificial Christmas tree for 45 years. Every ornament and decoration has a story, and Aunt Rose can tell you that story as if it happened yesterday. If she bought the ornament, she can tell you where she bought it and how much she paid for it. If she made the ornament, she can tell you what year she made it, where she bought the materials to make it, how many of them she made, and how long it took her to make it. If the ornament was a gift, she can tell you what year she received it and who gave it to her. If the ornament came from a member of the family now long gone, she can tell you a happy memory about that person. Aunt Rose loves the holidays, because for my aunt, she has anchored the holidays to wonderful memories with family and friends.
Take a minute, and notice what you’re feeling inside.
Now, we all have "that person" who hates the holidays. That person hates the holidays because they are nothing but stress, stress, stress. That person has to work, and it’s the busiest time of the year and everyone is grumpy and mean to them. That person has a million things to do and they’ll never get them all done. That person has to feed an ungrateful army known as family they can’t stand. That person hates shopping because of the crowds, buying hard to find gifts for people they don’t like. That person clings to "that Christmas" when "that family member" did "that thing" to them and "that" happened over 30+ years ago but they remember it like it was yesterday. That person clings to the people who aren’t going to be at Christmas this year, because those people are sick and in the hospital, or they died.
Take another minute and notice what you’re feeling inside.
When you compare these two people, which person seems happier? Is it the holidays that truly makes one happy or miserable, or is it what people choose to hold on to that brings joy or sadness?
Aunt Rose holds on to the happiness of being with family, and has created several resources over the years to anchor those happy memories of family to the holidays. She has "anchored" every ornament and figurine to a happy memory. "That person" has used their resources to anchor unhappy memories to the holidays. Unfortunately, these anchors are not always conscious choices. No one starts their life thinking "Some day, I’m going to grew up and HATE the holidays." Most people come to their conclusions about the holidays based on their own experiences and upbringing, and over years, begin to anchor to the bad memories in their past.
If this is you - now is the time to begin making new anchors! It’s time to let go of the ghosts of your Christmases past, and create new memories with anchors that uplift your spirits. I challenge anyone who reads this to find a way to make this holiday season the best one ever. Give yourself a gift of happiness forever, but intentionally creating joy for yourself this holiday season. Here’s just a few suggestions:
Change your surroundings. Get out of the house and go somewhere you’ve never been.
Buy yourself an outfit or accessory that makes you feel amazing.
Make yourself your favorite thing to eat, or try cooking a new ethnic dish.
Take yourself out to your favorite restaurant, or indulge in your favorite fast food.
Go for a walk! MOVE. Enjoy a park or walk around the mall.
Buy yourself a piece of the most spectacular piece of chocolate you can imagine, and savor every bite.
Write down your happiest holiday memory, and anchor it to an ornament or other memento. Put it somewhere where you can reference it on a daily basis.
Make time to try something you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t worry about being good at it, just do it!
Surrounded by family and need a break? Run to the restroom, and take 10 minutes for deep breaths and reconnect with yourself.
Need to be around people? Call up or visit a friend you haven’t seen in awhile via Zoom.
You are what you think about, so think good thoughts and do good things. Focus your thoughts on how to make this holiday season happy and memorable. Surround yourself with ornaments and figurines of wonderful memories, and notice your life changes for the better. If nothing else - feel free to wish my Aunt Rose a Merry Christmas!