It's holiday time. Time for seeing friends and relatives, creating traditions, celebrating together. Time for taking time to connect. Time for family relationships and traditions. Time that sometimes seems a little scarce throughout the rest of the year. Sounds great! But a small problem. Somehow, during the holidays, time becomes even scarcer! Instead of slowing down and having that time to connect, life speeds up.
About now you may be getting a little tense. Your list of 'have-tos' may be overriding your list of 'want-tos.' You may have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. Your list may be longer than your bank account is deep. Tension grows. Sleep shortens, and so do tempers. Pressures mount and expectations escalate.
Everyone is rushing. There are concerts to take in and baking to get done. There are decorations to put up and cards to send. There are parties to attend and dinners to prepare. There are gifts to be found and letters to be written. And, then, there are the children with all their activities, tasks, demands and desires. More tasks than time! Sound familiar?
Breathe! Yes, right now, take a big breath in through your nose and let it escape slowly through your mouth. Take a few moments to reflect on your choices. There are only two really important questions to answer to your own satisfaction:
What really matters to you?
Why does it matter?
Then connect the dots.
What Really Matters To You?
Yesterday I was sitting in a large bookstore and overheard a mother and her two daughters discussing holiday plans. They had a few books with holiday ideas on their table and they were looking for new family traditions. They were re-thinking their celebrations.
How about you? Have you re-thought your celebrations? Which pieces of tradition are very important to you? Which could you easily let go of?
That small family in the bookstore was learning a lot about each other. As they chatted about what they looked forward to each year, Mom had a few surprises. She learned that some things she thought were very important to her girls could easily be skipped, and other that she thought were insignificant were definitely not to be missed! Once you know what's important to you, have a chat with those you celebrate with. Find out what really matters and let the rest go. That could simplify your holidays quickly!
Oh, and, about other people's expectations? Think those through, too. Many folks are rushing about doing what they think is expected of them, rather than giving from their own hearts and minds. Do what's important to you. Does that sound selfish? Let me explain. If it's important to you to have time to see, hear, cherish, and enjoy the company of your great aunt, then make sure you make it a point to set aside quality time for her — and a relaxed you can be fully present with her.
So, we get to the second important question...
Why Am I Doing It?
Why do you want to spend quality time with Aunt Mary? Perhaps, your answer is "Because she gave so much of her time, love and attention to me when I was a child, and I want to be sure that she knows how much I value that." Now you're clear. Now, you can shift "I have to fit a visit with Aunt Mary in sometime this holiday" to "I want to have a good visit with Aunt Mary." It just went from a 'have-to' to a ''want-to' and tension was released. Or, was it? Sure, it's still on your list along with several hundred other things. If you were to re-visit everything on your list in this way, my guess is that your list would quickly get shorter.
Convinced? Think about these:
What if you didn't do everything you have on your list?
Would the world stop turning?
Would you lose your family and friends?
Would you lose your health, wealth, and well-being?
No, you definitely would not! However, you could be in danger of losing those last three if you donn't quickly re-think what's important and why it's important. Do that now before another item makes it's way on to your list. Before you agree to one more holiday commitment, before your stress level rises to a pitch that makes the holidays a blur, be aware of each thing that you do, and know why you're doing it.
Connect The Dots!
When you know what's important, significant, and valuable to you, and why it's important to you, connect the dots.
Connect with your own heart first. What do you most look forward to? What gives the holidays meaning for you? How will you express this? How much energy to you have? How much time do you have? How will it best be spent? Be ready to re-create your holiday frame-of-mind... as well as your expectations.
Connect with your expectations and those of others. Discuss with them what's important, significant, and valuable to them about the holidays, and what's not. Many pressures are created because 'it's always been done that way'. You may find there are many things that could be left undone because, frankly, no one really cares. Take those off your list!
Connect with your beliefs. If you believe that spending time with folks is more important than shopping, then use your time and energy accordingly. If you believe that this time is for upholding traditions, do so joyfully. If you believe that your spiritual beliefs are central to the holidays, be sure to put them at the top of your list. This is simple integrity.
Connect with the people you care about most. Use your time, money and energy to demonstrate your caring in ways that truly make sense to you. Remember, money is not a substitute for time... especially during the holidays.
Then do the things that matter with a joyful heart and a contented mind. And for your relationships? Make your holiday connections count!
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