If the quest for holiday happiness routinely turns into disappointment or frustration, there’s often two reasons.
Sure, you might blame one of the usual suspects:
- your crazy family
- those awful shoppers at the mall
- just too much to do
- the commercialism of the holidays
- or maybe even the weather
But, none of those things really has the power to ruin your holiday.
Harrowing holidays usually happen because of two things:
- you’re not being true to you
- and you’re expecting the holidays to give you something you’re not giving yourself
Start by asking yourself one question: How do I want my holidays to feel?
Then adjust accordingly.
Remember: You have the power to change the things that don’t align with your current desired feelings.
It’s when you don’t think you have a choice and therefore revert back to “default” mode that you usually end up frustrated.
Why I Canceled the Christmas Party
I learned this the hard way. About 10 years ago I started a tradition of throwing an annual holiday party for some of our friends. For many years it felt really good. I looked forward to it and enjoyed the fun and connection I felt during it.
But then my feelings about it began to change. I changed. Eventually it didn’t feel good anymore. I came to see it as weeks of planning and work, plus quite a hefty expense, with few of the feelings of connection I craved. Eventually I dreaded it more than I looked forward to it.
For awhile, I forgot I had a choice in the matter.
Then my waning enthusiasm for the party started showing up in other ways. For example, I stopped doing some of my annual Christmas decorating. I just felt too depleted to do it all. It was then I knew something had to change.
Lost and Found
So two years ago, I sat down a few days after our annual party and journaled all my thoughts. In page after page I saw the pattern. I’d lost myself in this tradition. It wasn’t creating any of my current desired feelings. In fact, it was doing the opposite! In that moment I vowed that until my feelings changed, the tradition would end. I finally exercised my right to choose.
And I followed through.
This will be the second year we don’t host our party. As a result, my spark for the holidays has returned.
This year I realized that remembering some of my first holiday traditions and what they represented, made me feel more connected than anything.
Tinsel Tree Memories
One of my happiest memories from the grade school years was going to my grandmother’s home for Christmas Eve. Seeing her was my favorite part of Christmas. She had a big bay window, and in it was her illuminated tinsel tree — glowing out into the night. From the moment we pulled into the driveway, my eyes locked on that tree. It was magical to me. Not only was it shiny and beautiful, but it symbolized time with my grandmother and all her kindness and love.
This year I found a tree similar to the one I remember and added it to our holiday decor. That little tree has been wonderful. It amplified my feelings of connection with my grandmother and all the Christmas Eves I spent at her home. Even though she’s been gone for nearly 20 years, when I look at my new tinsel tree, I can almost feel her standing beside me.
If You Can’t Ditch It — Alter It!
If you don’t feel comfortable simply ditching traditions that no longer feel good, see if you can figure out how to make them feel better. Put on your thinking cap and get creative. I’ve done a lot of that through the years. I’ve learned that when you openly and lovingly discuss the desire to alter holiday activities with family and friends who will be affected by it — that desire is often shared by many of them too. You’re just the first person to speak up.
The Feeling Starts With You
The other common source of disappointment is when you go into the holidays with an expectation that they will feel a certain way. The problem arises when you don’t bring any of that desired feeling with you — instead, expecting the holiday to give it to you. That rarely works. Let your desired feeling be part of your journey throughout the holiday and see how that changes the overall feeling.
In other words: Don’t expect the holidays to give you feelings you’re not currently giving yourself. <– Click to Tweet!
4 Steps to Creating a Feel-Good Holiday
If you’re ready to create your own type of feel-good traditions, use the four steps below.
- Choose your top 1 – 3 desired feelings for the holiday.
- For each one, see where you can give yourself that feeling right now. Take the steps to feel the feeling.
- Choose the traditions you think will compliment that feeling. If a tradition is not working, eliminate it and create what you really want. (If you feel you can’t eliminate it, alter it.)
- Create and bring your desired feelings with you throughout the holidays.
Wishing you a holiday season filled with love and happiness.
Photo courtesy of Vicky Brock on Flickr.