Savor the Season: A Holiday Survival Strategy

Last November, I hosted a group of ladies in my home for a workshop. A friend and fellow Integrative Nutrition Health Coach led us in a thought-provoking evening geared toward "savoring the season". I'm sure others can relate when I say I started the evening spewing off my list of overwhelming tasks ahead - Christmas cards, gifts, decorating, baking, cooking, hosting, parties, service... and on and on. God bless her; I feel like she could feel the anxiety inside of me, and then she asked just a couple of questions that changed our holiday season and holiday itself. More than that, the experience led to a profound shift on my perspective in general.


There were many valuable take-aways, but the one I ran with the most was the question of what is really meaningful to me and my loved ones.  She asked me: which things in that list of tasks matter most to your family?  Which things are important to them?   What if you are spending time doing all of those things, and they aren't even the ones they care about?  She relayed a personal example, and my wheels were turning.

So off I went.  I started with my daughter.  I asked her to describe her ideal Christmas. Her answer served to set an entirely new tone for our holiday.  She described a day of laying around in our jammies, watching Christmas movies, and resting.  ("Rest" - that in itself is a whole separate blog - have we really let our lives become so full of busyness and pressure that what we really want for Christmas is just to have everyone freaking relax together for once?!?!? I digress... )  

So I asked the logical questions. You won't miss the formal dinner? Everyone's favorites on the table?  I can't lay around in my jammies all day - who would cook the Christmas meal and serve?  Her answer:  "can't we just go eat in a restaurant?".  She didn't want me slaving in the kitchen all day, and specifically the pressure on everyone else that resulted.  Maybe you can relate?  Or...if you can't relate to this specific example, maybe you have your own areas of "perfection" that steal your ability to relax, enjoy and be present with your family? Maybe it's not even on Christmas day, but other tasks throughout the season that are meaningless to your loved ones but steal your precious time and energy?  

In a nutshell, after conversations with my son and then my husband, it was unanimous. In fact, the look of relief and excitement on my husband's face was priceless. 

Onto my mother.  Her holiday experience is important to me, and she tends to like formality.  It's what we know.  God bless her -- after getting over the hurdle of Christmas dinner in a restaurant - she was willing to be flexible as long as we could incorporate what was important to her.  In her case, it was being together as a family and also doing small, fun things together throughout the season.  A December of seizing and enjoying the opportunities the holidays bring.

So off we went.  We saw Night of Lights in St. Augustine, we saw the decorated beach chairs in Jax Beach, we saw a play at Alhambra, and we had an extremely enjoyable, relaxing, and delicious Christmas Day feast at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club -- after we laid around in our jammies until 4:00 and watched Christmas movies.  

And it was great.  And so it will be again.

I peeked back at my notes from the workshop.  The first thing we did was entitled "Ask Your Heart".  We responded to four questions.  They basically prompted you to think about how you feel when the holidays approach, your favorite things, your biggest challenges and your top priorities.  In my case, I had complete and utter misalignment.  My top priorities involved lots of planning, having enough packages and generally executing the Christmas tasks perfectly.  But what was most important to me was having the space to honor the birth of Christ, enjoying time with family and having a few meaningful gifts.    And what was important to my family was just plain being together.

Being present. 
In an enjoyable, relaxed way...whatever that looked like.
Fun over formality.
Quality over quantity.
Present over perfect.

Where can you let go and create more space, ease and enjoyment?

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