“Create your own method. Don't depend slavishly on mine.
Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you.”
- Konstantin Stanislavisky
The myth that Christmas has to be done, celebrated or claimed in any particular shape or form creates enormous stress and disappointment at this time of year. The season is difficult for many people and peace at home, let alone on Earth can seem like a bit of a stretch. While you're busy shopping for presents, true presence is missing. The holidays are often described as the worst time of the year. Many of my coaching clients, family and friends struggle to redefine their experience of Christmas and to honor what is right for them. Financial strain, deceased loved ones, family dramas, high expectations, as well as huge demands on time and energy, overwhelm many. I've noticed that the run-up to Christmas is often fraught with shoulds, stress and disappointment, with many people unable to stop the speeding train. Statistically speaking, Christmas has the highest rate of suicides, domestic violence and divorce. The ideal which is projected and then the pressure around creating it, can be a heavy, sometimes impossible burden to bear. It's not too late to reclaim this time of year. Whether Christmas is a religious celebration or family holiday or a time for reflection or not at all, it can be your choice and a present you gift yourself by reevaluating what it means to you.
BREAK WITH TRADITION
Christmas is often difficult because of the vast demands placed on a few days to resurrect the joy and lightheartedness of youth; a time for some when worries were few and happiness was overflowing. Many people will painstakingly attempt to recreate the feelings and memories of days gone by through the use of traditions: baking, decorating, gifts and activities. What made the season special at seven is impossible and unnecessary to capture at forty seven. Never mind that now you have three kids, work fifty hours a week, live six hours from your family and have a mortgage! When I ask people why they are doing all that they are doing, the responses are generally, “my family has always done it that way, it would not be the same without it and I have to or my family will kill me.” I encourage my clients to view the Christmas season in a new way. Never has the word(s) should or have to, been more abused then during the holiday season. What if you reclaimed this time in whatever way feels right to you? Traditions can be valuable and serve to connect one generation with another and many are worth keeping, however it's not the tradition that connects, it's the feeling that is evoked - love, appreciation and joy. You can induce this connection all year in a myriad of ways. It's important to ask yourself what's right for you and your family now? How would you like to spend your time and money at Christmas and does it match your values? This time of year can bring about a re-commitment to the life you want to live, the kind of relationships you want to have and a refocusing on the values by which you steer your life.
CHALLENGE THE MYTH
As a society we often condone or buy into self-destructive behaviors; defending them with mass consensus, never looking into the origins or asking questions for ourselves. So here it is: Christmas has become a packaged, blended ideology based on a mixture of tradition, religion, commercialism and expectation, not one of which is completely pure or right in its model. There's not one absolute way to honor this time, however anything that creates more stress, pushes gluttony, claims hierarchy or disconnects you from being truly present to your life and the world around you is no longer a celebration of anything, but a degradation of the what's possible when you first respect yourself and then others. This is the goal all year round and if you create or maintain only one tradition – maybe the best one is to be true yourself and others in the spirit of peace.
My wish for you is internal peace and a true presence to your life – now and always.