“It’s the most fren-ET-tic time of the year.”
(Sing it with me, friends!)
Wait? That’s not how the song goes?
Isn’t it mind boggling how the holidays go from the most wonderful time of the year, to one of the most challenging? Even if you’ve carefully curated Christmas with me last month in Flock, things can sneak up on you. Here’s the challenging truth of the matter:
There are too many variables in the holiday season for you to control them all.
(That’s okay. Help is at hand.)
Traditions are charged with emotion and meaning. Crowds abound. Money never spreads quite as far as you think it will. You are going to get stuck in 4 hours of traffic when to grandmother’s house you go.
So what’s a person with zen-like intentions to do?
Here are Sixtried and true tips from my joyful (frazzled) heart to yours!
1. Practice non-resistance. I am a planner. I think ahead. But no amount of forethoughtÂ could have accounted for the accident that made getting from one end of town to the other a 90 minute process on the way to Thanksgiving. EvenÂ if you give yourself generous margins, this time of year things are bound to go boink. All you can do sister, is breathe through it. Literally. When you feel yourself resisting the reality of long lines, a scarf left in the dressing room two stores back, dinner rolls that didn’t rise — take three deep breaths. Conciously drop your shoulders. And just accept that this is what’s happening.
2. Look for Redeeming Qualities. Unexpected traffic is a great time to catch up on the This American Life podcasts. As you walk back to retrieve that lost scarf, set an intention to keep your eyes open for one charming thing — a smiling bell ringer, pretty lights, a child in an adorable hooded coat. And who needs dinner rolls when you can eat a second scoop of mashed potatoes? Redemption surrounds you when you direct your gaze.
3. Consider the Worst Case Scenario. So the gravy took so long the turkey’s gone cold. Is anyone going to go hungry? You arrived late to The Nutcracker and had to be That Woman who stepped on toes getting to your seat. You still saw amazing performers create charming art. You didn’t finish your niece’s mittens on time. So she’ll get a New Year’s gift instead. (Note: none of these included starving to death, a great plague, or a zombie apocalypse. I think we’re gonna be okay.)
4. Feel your Feels. On the other hand you might really be feeling bummed that when it was your turn to present the family meal, things didn’t go so smoothly. Not having mittens in hand on Christmas day may make you miss your niece even more. You might really like reading the program before the ballet. Rather than stuffing those feelings, let them flow. Imagine them running like water under the bridge. Let the water run as long as you need to until the intensity dissipates. This will bring ease back to your heart better than any pep talk.
5. Unhook The Meaning. Everything we do at this time of year is infused with meaning. The just-right gift is attached to “I Love You.” A beautiful meal gets aligned with “I am a grown up now.” It’s true that traditions communicate certain values. But all to often we attach meaning to something when meaning isn’t there. If you are feeling uptight about some perceived short coming — committed by you or visited upon you by another– do a double check. Does it really mean what you think it does? If not, visualize unhooking the meaning from the action, like unhooking one train car for another and let it roll away.
6. Mantra it Up. When these techniaues feel too complex, or if you just prefer this trick, use a mantra. The in breath/out breath required to speak a mantra soothes your parasympathetic nervous system. And the rich words remind you of important truths. Classic’s include Julian of Norwich’s, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” There’s the ever so accurate,Â “This too shall pass.”Â Or the vintage favorite , “Keep Calm and Carry On.” You might also adopt my homemade holiday favorite:
I release perfection. I welcome comfort and joy.
Oh friend, what I want to tell you is this. Your holidays will not be perfect. But barring any true crisis, you can ease yourself into merry and bright.
May comfort and joy be your withmates this season.
*your magpie girl
Want soulful support like this, not just during the holiday, but all year long? Get it in your mail box each and every month, from my heart to yours. Click here to learn more about Care Postale: Soulcare by Mail.