“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
Last week, our theme for the self-care challenge was expressing gratitude and thankfulness. Many of you commented that you liked Friday’s challenge which was to send gratitude to others by “choosing someone you want to express thanks to for what they’ve done, who they are or what they mean to you. It can be someone you’re close to or someone you may have fallen out of touch with. Let your heart and soul decide.
Then message that person via e-mail or Facebook, text them, make a call or send a note. Once they receive your message, ask them to choose someone to express their gratitude towards and contact them. The goal is to connect as many people as possible with thankfulness and appreciation, keeping the true spirit of the season alive. Let’s see how many cities, states, and countries we can reach and how far our message can spread.”
Since Thanksgiving is Thursday, we hope you’ll make this a weeklong activity. Let family and friends know your gratitude for them. Perform random acts of kindness like smiling at the grocery clerk or saying “Hi” to a neighbor. When someone is thoughtful towards you, show them your appreciation. Did you know that when you are kind or someone is thoughtful towards you, it improves your and their health and mood? It also has a positive influence on those observing.
Join us on twitter and Facebook for conversation and support in spreading an attitude of gratitude. Best to all of you!
It’s the final day of our self-care challenge and hopefully you’re less stressed and feeling better from this week’s gratitude activities. Now, it’s time to spread the cheer. Remember when you used to play telephone and whisper messages in your friends’ ears passing them from one to the next. At the end, you’d laugh over how the message changed and start again.
Today’s challenge is to send gratitude to others in whatever way works for you. Choose someone you want to express thanks to for what they’ve done, who they are or what they mean to you. It can be someone you’re close to or someone you may have fallen out of touch with. Let your heart and soul decide. You won’t be misled.
Then message that person via e-mail or Facebook, text them, make a call or send a note. Once they receive your message, ask them to choose someone to express their gratitude towards and contact them. The goal is to connect as many people as possible with thankfulness and appreciation, keeping the true spirit of the season alive. Let’s see how many cities, states, and countries we can reach and how far our message can spread.
At livingselfcare, we want to thank each of you for joining us this past week and sharing your posts and comments, and to each of the challenge champions for their participation and generosity. Let us always remember what we’re thankful for during the holidays and each day of our lives.
With the focus on gift-giving during the holidays, we sometimes forget that one of the most precious gifts we can share is doing something kind or thoughtful for each other. Today’s activity is to do a good deed for a family member or friend to express your gratitude for them being a part of your life.
There are three guidelines for this activity. First, choose something which you know your family member/friend would appreciate even if it’s different than what you want to do for them. An example, my mom asked me to help clean her closet for her holiday gift and while I’d much rather run an errand, make her a meal or buy her a present, that’s not what she wants from me.
Second, it must come from the heart and be done in the spirit of generosity. Doing it in a begrudging or resentful way is not the intention of today’s challenge. Remember, this is a “gift” for someone you love. Third, it can’t cost anything. Giving your time and attention to your family and friends is truly more valuable than anything money can buy.
Finally, consider making this an activity for the whole family. It’s a great way to express an attitude of gratitude toward all those you love.
Today’s inspiration: “It is only through the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,The Little Prince.