By Holly Keich
We’re entering into the months of shorter days, longer nights and full calendars. But, before the season takes hold we can pull back and take a look at how we’d like the season to unfold. Rather than grabbing on for dear life as the holidays trample over us with their long to-do lists all decorated with pretty bows and wrapping, take a breath and see what your soul desires of the coming months. Here are 7 ideas to make it a more meaningful time for you and your family.
1. Set a Family Intention
Have a family meeting and determine what’s most important this holiday season. What activities make your heart sing and your family join together? What would put joy and meaning back into your holiday celebrations and allow you to focus on unconditional love and connection? Is it time together or heading out to celebrate with others? Are there certain traditions you love and fill you with gratitude? Each person gets to share what they love most and the family gets to look at what they want to keep to celebrate the spirit of the holiday.
2. Quiet the calendar
Downscale. Keep the focus on the family and the meaningful traditions that replenish you. Think simplicity, which might mean having to say no. If it’s not on the family intention list, feel the freedom to say “we’re booked.” When setting up your calendar fill it in with special time for the ones you love most. Make sure there’s down time schedule in – blank spaces on the calendar that don’t get run over with activities. And if you get invited to one more thing, practice developing your “no” muscle as a personal gift to yourself.
3. Question Consumerism
Even before each holiday passes, the next holiday is being marketed for us to buy, buy, buy. Living in a consumeristic world, it can be hard to block out the noise. But before making a purchase, head back to your family intentions list and see if it can coexist with your new values. Celebration doesn’t have to mean buying meaningless things that people don’t need. Minimize where you can. The process is more important than the outcome. Think low investment, high impact items. A great idea is to give others a one less gift certificate which can make the holiday more about spending time together than the gifts that we give just for the sake of giving.
4. Revisit your holiday traditions
Perhaps your passing down traditions that you’ve come to hate or feel overwhelmed bring to fruition. Now is your chance to see if they are still working for your family. What do you want to keep, what can be tossed, what can you create that’s new? Your family intention should help you identify traditions that bring the most joy.
5. Connect with the Outdoors
In winter months, as the colder weather sets in, we tend towards the indoors, but it can be a crucial time to connect with nature. Moving outdoors allows us to feel freer, more open, restoring our mental energy and alleviating stress. It’s also been shown to boost our immune system – a great benefit during cold and flu season which can turn the holidays from celebration to sedation. Greeting the outdoors can help us to feel grounded during the holidays, nudging us to be okay with a slower pace.
6. Season of Giving
Giving to others is characteristic of the season. Whether that means generosity with your time or money, compassion is woven into our very being and is especially noticeable during this time of year. You might hear stories of Walmart layaways being paid off at a local store or other grandiose gestures, but simple, small kindnesses offered with love can have a big impact too. Enjoy the secret pleasure of small Random Acts of Kindness during the holidays (and all year round). Join with the kids to help at a local toy or book drive or other non-profit organization or simply sharing cookies with your neighbors. And don’t forget that Random Acts of Kindness can include yourself which leads us to #7.
7. Take Care of Yourself
Top of the To Do List : Breathe!
Smile, laugh and relax.
Remember your life’s priorities during the holidays.
And whenever things feel out of kilter, stop, slow down and return to #1.
Revisit each idea again to see how you can simplify and connect this holiday season!
Holly Keich is the owner of Om Baby Pregnancy & Parenting Center in Camp Hill. She is a Licensed Social Worker, Yoga Instructor, Certified Infant Massage Instructor, Parent, Wife and adamant student in the school of life.