Jingle. Jingle. Jingle.
Shining, sparkly lights everywhere.
Singing songs of joy and celebration.
The smell of holiday goodies.
The sparkle and magic of the Holiday season.
By Tami Reagor, Reprinted from our December 2015 TPY magazine.
What happened to the magic? Why does dread set in? When does the bah humbug moment come? When you realize that the holidays no longer represent what you remember them to be as a child? When you start to think about how much work you have to do, money you need to spend, cooking you want to do? When did JOY become about more?
Let me tell you the story of a typical holiday for a busy woman such as yourself.
Once Upon a Time...
Feelings of celebration fill you up. You feel the rush of the excitement to decorate the tree and revisit the music stored away from last year. You cannot wait to rip open that box of decorations and ornaments. Thanksgiving Day comes and you spend it waiting excitedly for the day after to put up the tree or decorate the yard. The excitement makes you giddy, just as you were when a child.
Danger on the Horizon...
A part of you loves the holidays, but a part of you hates them too. The guilt and shame of not being able to keep up replaces giddy excitement for decoration; the knowledge of all the crap you will ingest replaces savory longings for family recipes. You fear of weight gain and wonder if you bought the right gift for the right person. The holiday magic of your childhood disappears.
The Heroine Fights Back...
You commit to yourself that this year, you are going to do things different. You resolve to slow down and enjoy the magic. But...that never happens. You start the day after Thanksgiving with this new refreshing look and then BAM overwhelm/exhaustion/insecurity hits you like a lead brick. You have this to do and that to do and what about that and...and...and...
Happily Ever After...?
Before you know it, the whole thing is over. You are relieved, but also, you are left with this feeling that you somehow missed something important along the way. You start to focus on all you did wrong - I ate too much, I drank too much, I spent too much, I did too much, I hurried through everything - Humph! (blow hair out of face in despair). Well that sucked! I set out with good intentions but I guess it is just not meant to be.
How did you arrive here? You promised yourself that this Holiday season would be different, so why wasn't it? What is it with the holidays that makes you feel like a Mack truck just hit your wallet, your body, and your overall mojo?
The holidays have become a high pressure status quo game: Who can eat the most and complain the most about the weight they are going to gain? Who buys the most gifts? Who buys the most extravagant gifts? Who goes to the most parties? Who holds their liquor better? Who makes the most cookies or other holiday treats? Who has the tallest and/or prettiest tree?
The list goes on.
The smells, tastes, and overall feeling of the holidays are Lush -- warmth, joy, grace. When we allow others to push their agenda on to our traditions than we lose sight of what the holidays mean to us as individuals. We intentionally torture ourselves so we can fit in, not stopping to think whether it's worth it or not. And next year the bar is going to be raised even higher.
Many people will tell you that the holidays are all about everyone else but that is simply not true. The holidays are about you (first and foremost) and your family - partner and kids and maybe parents and grandparents. Doing anything outside of taking care of you and your family is your choice -- not your friends or your co-workers -- Yours. You get to choose how you spend your time, how you celebrate, how you breathe, and who you celebrate with.
Okay. Breathe. Take a deep breath in. Now, blow it out. Tell yourself the following: The holiday season doesn't control me. I create the holidays I want and they only need to suit my needs and dreams. Does that feel far-fetched or doable?
Start at those tickles of glee - the excitement of the coming season. Those tickles are there because they represent that part of you that really wants the holiday season to be grand. Think about those holidays gone by. What were you most excited about?
As I child, I loved Christmas. Listening to the classics with my Dad as we decorated the tree. Every ornament that came of the box out had its own significance for him. He would tell us where they came from and how old they were. He would share his memories of Christmas with us. My Dad had a particular style to his trees that I still try to mimic.
While we decorated the tree, my mother baked yummy chocolate chip cookies and other goodies. My brother, sister and I would try to wait patiently for our turn to lick the spoon and the bowl too. Just thinking about this makes me connect to that child within who sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
Your inner child did not disappear at age 18. Instead, she has been locked away inside. When the holidays (or other seasons) come that make you stroll down memory lane, you inner child beckons to be let out. Maybe you, like me, dream of decorating the tree just like it was when you were a child.
Acknowledging this piece of ourselves can make us excited, until the rigors of being an adult and having responsibilities an adult has, we quickly gag our inner child so she is forgotten and packed away yet again. In this moment, we lose sight of how our heart and soul yearn to experience the magical feelings of the holidays--joy, love, grace, and gratitude. Having fun and enjoying the small things.
These happy-go-lucky feelings are too easily replaced with competition, greed, guilt, shame, judgment, anger, stress, and disrespect. Not everyone experiences all of these; for the lucky few, there may still be a light in their Holidays, but for most of us, the magic is lost in the hustle and bustle of adulthood.
The holidays are supposed to be about being grateful and celebrating everything already in your life -- our health, body, home, family, etc. Instead, it has become about giving the biggest and best gifts. How does standing in a long line on Thanksgiving Day to fight over (and potentially trample) someone else's dream gift bring love and joy to the world, or to your life? Put simply, it doesn't.
Do not get me wrong - I love to give gifts. But the gesture behind the gift is what should count, not the gift itself. Someone loves you enough to share part of their abundance with you. How sweet is that? As children, the excitement of just opening the gift was enough.
Beyond competition, the holidays are filled with guilt, shame, and fear about how bad you are eating, what other people think about what you are eating, and how much weight you are going to gain. This mindset is ridiculous. As children, we ate and enjoyed every morsel.
Your body loves you and it only wants to please you. Eating holiday goodies while telling yourself that you are going to gain weight is telling your body that is what you want. Words and thoughts become actionable items in our bodies. Your body thinks: "Hmmm...Okay so you want me to store all this extra away - okay got it." Then, you get on the scale and you have gained 5 pounds. No surprises there - you asked for that weight.
Imagine giving yourself permission to enjoy every last morsel of food you consume. How good would it feel to eat without the guilt and complaining? See what happens when you tell your body: “I am going to enjoy this yummy food and I give you permission to keep what is needed and get rid of anything not needed via the normal channels.”
Last year, I did exactly that. I gave myself permission to enjoy my mother's chocolate chip cookies and other goodies - wheat, sugar, and all. I enjoyed every morsel - oh, they tasted so good! All the while, everyone around me complained about how much weight they were going to gain and how they shouldn’t eat (don’t deserve) all the good food around them. Drowning out everyone else’s guilt-fest, I managed to keep myself to my goal of enjoyment.
Through this experience, I realized that holiday parties are giant pity parties where everyone spews the awful things happening in their lives and compares stories and tries to outdo each other. Yuck! There is no laughter, fun, joy, or gratitude in complaining and trying to one up everyone around you. Not only did I decide to enjoy every morsel, I chose not to take part in the pity party. I will tell you - this perspective made me lonely and any attempt on my part to change others' perspectives was not received well. I got this look like -- Really? You aren't going to take this thing I have away from me.
Regardless, I choose to sit in the corner by myself and to count my blessings as I ate chocolate chip cookies. After the holidays were over, I felt fulfilled, grateful, and happy. I had not gained an ounce (I actually reduced my weight a bit). I was free to be joyful and gracious, conscious of everything in my life and still feeling the lingering magic of experiencing Christmas though the eyes of my inner child again. I couldn't wait to see what the new year would bring.
As children, we loved the holidays because life went at a much slower and more enjoyable pace. We had the time to actually experience things. Today, holidays are what we make of them. They can be awe inspiring – lived through the eyes of your inner child -- or you can continue to buy into the hustle and bustle of society’s rules. Take a step back to reflect on what you really love above about the holidays and focus on that -- anything outside of that is extra so you get to choose whether to add it to your routine.
This holiday season, I wish for you to have the courage to bring that child within who still loves the holiday season out into the open. Hold that child's hand, embrace her excitement and wonder. Allow your holiday story to include Joy once again.
Tami Reagor helps women change their thoughts and perspectives from a lack mindset to abundance overflowing while they create the life their soul desires. She leads women to a life where they practice gratitude and accept abundance. Her first book, Unleash Your Inner Tiger, was published in 2015.
Connect with her on Instagram @Wellbeing.is or Facebook @WellBeingIs.