The turkey’s been eaten. The Black Friday deals have been snagged and now we’re collectively turning our attention towards the holidays.
No matter where you are or what you celebrate…it’s gonna look different this year. Many areas are enforcing tighter restrictions again and even heading back into lockdown. Families with high-risk members are opting-out of the festivities all together.
How are you feeling about the holidays this year?
Are you excited? Trusting the magic will be there no matter what? Or are you experiencing anticipatory grief? Looking ahead to all the traditions that might need to be skipped, missing your loved ones and aching for the way things used to be? There’s no wrong answer here. All feelings are welcome to the holiday table.
But before we can find the light, it’s important to acknowledge and accept where we’re at:
- We’ve lost so much personally and collectively this year you might still be grieving the changes to your work, relationships, and daily life.
- Many of us are dealing with the death of loved ones and aching from being unable to gather and participate in end of life rituals.
- We’re still taking it one day at a time and it can feel nearly impossible to make plans with so much uncertainty, knowing how quickly things can change.
- Finances might be strained and the usual Christmas shopping splurges are smaller this year or no gifts at all.
- We fell short of our goals and have delayed our dreams.
- We’ve survived lockdown once and many are preparing to survive it again.
- We’ve home schooled our kids and developed a new appreciation for the teachers in our lives.
- Many have figured out that working from home with the promise of sweat pants and endless snacking isn’t immune to burn out and exhaustion.
That’s A LOT of loss and grief and uncertainty and by no means is that list exhaustive. Sometimes looking back and realizing all you’ve been through, well, it can almost take your breath away. But do you know what I see when I look at that list?
We are so frickin’ resilient!
I mean seriously, look at all we’ve endured and survived in 2020! That is A LOT of change in a short amount of time, and yet, here we are. Still standing. Maybe a little wobbly, but still standing. And if you read that list and feel depleted, strained, stressed, anxious, or maybe full of despair and feeling more of a ‘Blue Christmas‘ this year – that’s 100% okay too.
But of that 100%, can you spare 1%?
Because all you need is a 1% belief that it’s gonna be okay. If you can manage that 1% I know you can find the light this Christmas. I want to challenge you to look for the bright spots. Because our joy is never as far away as it seems it’s just that sometimes it takes a little bit of effort to find it. And let me tell you, that little bit of effort can have a HUGE payoff.
Here’s 3 ways to shift your perspective and find a little sparkle this holiday season.
- Lessons From Improv
The first thing you learn when you’re starting improv is “yes, and…”. Whenever anyone says something you follow it up with “yes, and…” building on what they’ve said to keep the scene going. “No” and “but” are not allowed because they shut down the action and the scene is over.
There’s magic in those two little words. “Yes, and…” opens us up to new possibilities, positivity and opportunities we might have missed before because we were too focused on the negative.
I use it EVERYWHERE in my life.
So, how does “Yes, and…” fit into your COVID Christmas? Like this…
Christmas is different this year. Yes, and we can still find some joy.
We’re going to miss out on family traditions. Yes and we can create new traditions.
We won’t be able to get together in person. Yes and there are other ways we can connect.
We won’t be able to attend all the usual parties and gatherings. Yes and that means there’s no pressure, no rushing around. Quiet and cozy can be our theme this year.
Everything is up in the air and I can’t plan ahead. Yes and this gives you the opportunity to be flexible.
Military families know what it’s like to be separated from loved ones for the holidays AND they still manage to make it special. I know you can too.
Here are a few ideas for you…
- Collaborate on a family Christmas playlist on Spotify. Everyone contributes a song or 2 and you can all listen even though you’re apart.
- If watching Christmas movies is a part of your holiday ritual then use an app like Netflix party to watch together.
- Send Christmas cards (This is still a thing! And any snail mail that isn’t a bill is to be celebrated)
- Try a new recipe – like this one
- Have a Gingerbread House competition
- Get out and play in the snow (or sand if you’re in the southern hemisphere)
- If you miss carolling have a virtual Christmas karaoke with your friends over Zoom and sing all your favourite carols.
- Decorate early (I see so many people doing this…and applaud it. If it feels good, do it!)
2. Permission Slips
What permission slips do you need to write for yourself that will allow you to ENJOY the holidays this year?
Do you need permission to be happy in spite of everything? Or do you need permission to be open to the possibility of feeling good? Moments of joy are allowed, even when you’re grieving the death of a loved one. It doesn’t mean you loved them any less.
Do you need permission to feel all the feelings that surface without judgement? Or permission to feel extremes both happy and sad, joyful and lonely, laughters and tears, possibly at the same time?
Do you need permission to ask for help if you need to? Or to change your mind if you need to? Or maybe you need to be open to receiving help this year?
Do you need permission to laugh and feel optimistic even though nothing has gone according to plan? This comedian’s post has gone viral – in it she reads out her goals for 2020 and laughs because not a single one has come true. Life gets a little absurd sometimes and laughter can ease the stress we’re feeling. For more Co-ho-ho-ovid giggles, check out my friend Dan’s updated Christmas jingle for 2020 (the original is fabulous too!)
3. Tend to your spirit
Anxiety shows up when we focus on the future and the things we can’t control – like government imposed lockdowns. Depression shows up when we focus on the past and how things used to be.
The only place you can find joy is in the present. So find the things that help you stay present, even just for a few minutes.
There are so many different ways to meditate, find what works for you.
- Rock out to your favourite Christmas tunes
- Take the dog for a walk and listen to the sounds of nature
- Make a practice of marveling at how connected we are and the wonder of everyday things – the cry of a baby, the smell of pine trees, the crunch of snow under your feet, the light dancing in the fireplace, the taste of candy canes, the soft cozy blanket wrapped around you
- Time for stillness and reflection – look at what you’ve learned and how far you’ve come (again, you’re still standing despite it all!)
- Or check out this meditation on joy
There’s always something to be grateful for if you look for it.
- Gratitude for everyone who is doing their job despite the risks (healthcare workers, grocery store employees, delivery people etc)
- Gratitude for everyone who loves and supports you.
- Gratitude for everyone trying their best, figuring it out as they go, and being kinder/gentler with ourselves and each other.
Help Someone Else
It’s a season of generosity, love and caring – these are the things that make it “magical”.
- Help a neighbour shovel their driveway.
- Send a voice memo to a friend to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Donate to a food bank or toy drive or shelter.
- Help your job-searching friend revamp their resume and e-introduce them to people who might be able to help.
We belong to each other. Helping others makes us feel good. Just make sure you’re still prioritizing YOUR needs.
Okay, so maybe our goals for 2020 went a liiiiiiittle off the rails, that doesn’t mean you stop dreaming! What are your dreams for 2021? Sense yourself in that dream. Do a vision board. Write a bhavana. Go big! Connect to your values. What do you want your “next normal” to look like? How might you flourish?
The holidays can magnify our grief and this year has held more grief than most we can remember. Finding the bright spots this Christmas might take more effort than we’re used to but even putting a few of these ideas into motion can make a big difference.