There is something about the end of the year holidays that drives all people a little crazy.
Maybe it is the constant playing of “jingle bells” or that Christmas decorations some how have snuck into stores right after Halloween, but somehow the spirit of the holidays has been diluted into colors of coffee cups, the amount of presents you receive, or how great of a meal/pie/cookies you make. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kawanza, Solstice, or some combination of these, it is important to get back to the root of the season and celebrate it with your friends or family.
While my boys are still very young (three years old and three months currently), starting
traditions young and making it about the time we get to spend together, not about what is “under the tree”. From talking about why we celebrate with a Christmas tree as we decorate the house to celebrating the longest night of the year with lighting candles and talking about the changes in the Earth’s rotation that will lead us to summer, I choose to infuse as much of the spirit of the holidays as I can.
How CAN we keep the sacred in the holidays?
If you are religious, bring as much of that into each activity you take part in. Sit down and really examine with you believe and what childhood activities brought you the most joy. Ice skating?
Giving to other’s less fortunate? Caroling? Gift exchange parties? Church/Temple celebrations?
Pick those things you loved as a child and as you partake in them this year, try to experience it though your childlike wonder.
Need to renew your faith in humanity? Sign up at one of the food banks, starting a coat drive, or bringing meals to your local homeless or needy people can remind you of the abundance that you have in your life as well as bringing back the spirit of the holidays. Giving back to our communities’ can help keep the holiday less feeling like you are a gift giving machine and that life and connecting with others is the gift itself.
Not sure what sacredness to infuse into your home? Start with having some close friends over on the Winter Solstice (December 21) to celebrate the longest night of the year. Have dinner by candle light, eat lots of warm foods and drink warm beverages, sit by the fireside (outdoor fire pits can be amazing if you lack a fireplace, if it’s not too cold where you live), and share some stories about the adventures and highlights of your year. Shedding some brightness and love on the darkest of days.
Make some new traditions the day of Christmas or Kawanza or each day of Chanukah, choosing something activity based rather than gift based. One tradition that I am excited to get the boys into is a little gift based, but worth so much more. On Christmas eve, every one gets to open one gift that is specifically for Christmas Eve, a book. As the boys get older, I hope they will enjoy the tradition of reading and sipping hot chocolate or apple cider while reading their new books (I am counting down the days/years until they can read the Harry Potter series!) tree side and together. Creating traditions, whether they be ones from your childhood or something new you want to create, start now. Make it a ritual, make it a time to connect with family, friends, or yourself. No phones, no laptops, no TV.
The spirit of the holidays is always in the air. It is always there; you just need to notice it. Make the holidays about connecting with yourself, with your family, with your friends instead of giving the biggest gifts. It all starts with remembering what you believe about this time of year and letting it infuse all that you do. Letting each activity, each celebration bring back the
sacredness of the holiday!
Liz Vartanian is a yoga teacher, writer, and mom living in Austin, TX. She teaches restorative yoga offering yogis a chance to leave class feeling energized and supported with a side of community as students are often surprised with home cooked goodies after long relaxing Savasanas. She is the co-creator of eight limb//life, a course encouraging everyone to discover their practice of yoga in all aspects of life. When not teaching yoga, Liz can be found with her family where there is coffee, good friends, toy trucks, and a body of water!
You can follow her on Instagram @lizv_yoga or at her website www.blissfulbetty.com.
Photo used with permission by author.
Feature image: creative commons by Jesse Millan
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