As the holidays approach, anxiety seems to heighten. We cannot escape the constant media barrage blaring from our televisions, radios and now flashing on our smart phones and computers, prompting us to hurry up and spend money we don't have to buy things for people they don't need to remind them how important they are to us in our lives. It's as if this is our only opportunity to properly show our love for them, which can only be done with the latest electronic device from Apple of the latest fashion from Abercrombie & Fich. It's financially, emotionally and physically exhausting.
Perhaps we find it difficult to reconcile our adult expectations with those we held as children, hoping that the magic will last; or perhaps we are trying to create the magic we felt we missed out on for whatever reason growing up. The holidays seem to trigger so many emotional issues for us all, and can bring out the best and worst we have to offer.
And therein lies our choice...
We can choose to let the anxiety overwhelm us as we try to fulfill the unrealistic expectations consuming our days, or we can choose to let go of our expectations (both positive and negative) and redefine what this time of year means to us individually and as families. Is this just a time of giving and receiving gifts, or can it mean something more? Or something less? It is after all, just another day and can be treated like any other. It doesn't have to represent something more to you if you don't want it to. Again, it's a choice.
After many years of trying and failing to make my expectations match the actual outcome of these magical times, I decided to redefine the holidays to be meaningful and happy for myself and for my family. Together we chose to use this time of year to share of ourselves through some charity or volunteering, and we played down the expectations and created our own traditions. By doing this, we freed ourselves from the anticipated anxiety and subsequent disappointment, and the result was amazing! We found a way to truly enjoy each other and the holidays.
Now I find myself looking forward to this time of year with eager anticipation. Thinking of new things to do for family and friends, new ways to give, and that I believe, is what it truly is about. Not about purchasing the latest toys and clothes for friends and family, but to personally give a little bit of yourself to someone else to show them how they are worthy of your gift. And remember, you are worthy of that gift as well.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed this holiday season... stop... breathe... and remember that you have choices.