“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas / Ev’rywhere you go…” A beautiful reminder for those who love and celebrate this holiday to see all the decorations: houses lit up on cold winter nights, bell ringers outside stores with “SALE” signs in windows, even Santa sledding on an electric razor on television.
For those of us who are not Christians, however, it’s a constant reminder of our differentness. The saturation of our culture in the Christmas holiday makes this a difficult time of year. How do those of us who swim against the tide maintain perspective in the midst of the season?
For me, I remind myself of what’s really important to me. I find the commercialism and gift-giving particularly difficult and have tried to bow out of family activities that involve gift-giving. But I’ve come to realize that, though this tradition isn’t meaningful to me, it makes the grandparents happy to give my children gifts, and my children feel loved and happy receiving those gifts.
I also remember that the basics of living my self-care are more important than ever this time of year: deep breathing, regular exercise, healthy food choices, a good night’s sleep. I make the holiday my own as much as possible, holding to traditions that are meaningful to me and letting go of the rest. “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men” is a gift I give myself every year.
Thank you to Angela, mom of 2 from Wisconsin, for this invaluable perspective in today’s post.
The holidays often sucks us into the gimmes, just like our kids, as we make the holidays happen. We easily lose track of the underlying message of the season for our kids. Consider these focused activities to reconnect with the holiday lessons:
1) CHOOSE actively, in line with your values. Stop and consider what you want to teach about the holiday season. You might want to say no if an event is too commercial, or detracts from planned family time. It’s fine to focus on fun–and opt out if an event is more drudgery or duty than pleasure. This is your holiday, too, and you have the right to celebrate it in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable for you. What a good example for your children!
2) INVOLVE everyone in the process of giving, helping small children pick out toys for the holiday toy drive, donate from their piggy banks to the bell ringer at the grocery, or make macaroni necklaces for favorite aunts or sitters. Older children might perform a chore, or sing/perform on an instrument for neighbors, visiting family, or residents of a senior living community.
3) READ one book about your spiritual perspective and traditions nightly. Every library has a children’s librarian eager to suggest new (or old favorite) titles. On the subject of reading, consider a classic book as a gift each year. Building a personal library for a child fosters a lifelong love of reading, one value to focus on that continues throughout the year.
There have been certain times in my life that were more challenging than others. Challenges not only make you stronger, but they force you to get out of your normal and comfortable routine. Without challenges in our lives there is no room for growth or opportunity for gratitude.
My experience with postpartum depression was negative and frightening, but I am thankful that it created the stronger, better, mom and person I am now. I am thankful that my experience led me to help other moms struggling with the same feelings and let them know that they are not alone. I am thankful to have met so many wonderful people on my life’s journey.
Think about people you have met in your lifetime, the influence that each and every one of them has had on your life. Let someone know that you appreciate them. Thank someone for their time or kind gesture. Think about things you are you thankful for: a pet, flowers in your garden, the opportunity to travel. Giving thanks is a powerful positive message that can become part of your daily routine and improve your life. I didn’t learn to give thanks; it was something I created within myself. There are many benefits to giving thanks. Express gratitude today and always.
Linda Meyer is the Executive Director of Mother to Mother in St. Louis, MO. Mother to Mother provides free telephone support, group support and resources to women experiencing emotional difficulties during pregnancy and postpartum. www.mothertomothersupport.org