I know so many people who have rules about what must happen to feel “successful” for the holidays. Rules like finding the “perfect” gift, or showing their love by how much they spend, or needing to provide a spectacular holiday meal can all lead to stress and overwhelm. Women tend to be more bound by these rules than men, as if self-worth is determined by wowing everyone at the holidays. Brene Brown, known for her research on vulnerability and shame, says that women seek to avoid shame with “do it all, do it perfectly, and never let them see you sweat.” Often this comes at the expense of our health, financial, and other personal goals as we drive ourselves to live by these rules, no matter the cost.
Instead of these default, unexamined rules, I invite you this holiday season to make up your own rules, and be willing to break tradition.
I have a friend who always seemed peaceful and unhurried around the holidays. I asked how she did it, especially since she had 2 teenage children. Their family strategy was simple: each family member chose one holiday experience most meaningful for them: baking cookies, decorating the tree, caroling, and skiing on Christmas were her family’s experiences. Everything else around the holidays was optional because those 4 activities were the most important activities. Instead of rushing through the process, they used it to fully connect and honor the person whose favorite activity it was.
Another strategy – when my family went to a new approach of drawing a name and buying one gift instead of a gift for everyone, a huge burden was lifted for all of us. Instead, we spent our time taking care of the other things that mattered most instead of the siren song of retailers saying “more, more!”
What matters most to you and to your loved ones? How can you honor your other life goals while enjoying the holidays, so you don’t start 2018 with regrets? What or who do you need to say “no” to? What rules have kept you in holiday patterns that make you stressed, and how would you like to change them?
I wish you peace, joy and love this holiday season.