Let Go: Holiday “Shoulds”

Cookie Exchanges
The Perfect Family Picture
Outside Lights
Elf on a Shelf
Stocking Stuffers

Now that we’re in full holiday mode, let’s get real about what it is you actually enjoy doing this time of year. Don’t get me wrong. I love, love the holidays. Lights. Snow. Christmas Trees. Songs. Hot Chocolate. Family. Friends. Good Food. And yes, presents. It’s a time like no other and it’s a time that we are adding more to already packed schedules. I’m asking that we take a look at what it is that really brings us joy during the holidays and do only those things. That’s what it’s all about anyway, right? Joy and peace to all. Well, joy and peace start within and if you’re not feeling that as you go about your holiday preparations and celebrations then it’s time to go within and see what’s up.

My guess is that once you begin questioning, you’ll realize that any stress you’re feeling around the holidays is self-imposed. The false societal standards for holiday perfection are off the chart and miss the mark on what really matters. If you truthfully enjoy baking cookies for your neighbors, moving around Herbie the elf every night, writing cards to everyone you know, by all means DO IT! If you don’t, LET IT GO ALREADY! Take the self-imposed pressure off. Lighten your already busting-at-the-seams load. And erase the naughty word “should” from your vocabulary. There’s nothing you should do and I’ll venture to say that if you’re thinking you “should” do something, you don’t really want to do it and it doesn’t really matter anyway. Your neighbors, friends, and kids will survive without cookies, Herbie, and a card from you.

The picture above shows the extent of my Christmas decorations – a tree and stockings. I love putting up the tree and hanging the stockings. Anything else feels like a burden to me, so I don’t do it. I don’t send Christmas cards because I don’t enjoy collecting addresses, stuffing envelopes, or spending the money and time to print a picture of my family that everyone except my mother and aunt are going to throw away in January. And yes, I throw away your family’s picture and card too unless you’ve written me a lovely note inside, which again usually only comes from my mom or aunt. That art was lost with the invention of Shutterfly.

Although I grew up experiencing several Christian denominations – Nazarene, Baptist, Christian, mostly Methodist – I do not now associate with any religion. I feel deeply spiritual, but not religious (post for another time). However, I do believe the story of Jesus is real and that his purpose on Earth was to teach us how to live. I am grateful for him and he should be honored. If we dig deep to the Spirit of Christmas, and we do indeed need to dig deep these days, we’ll see what’s really important this time of year. I think the words of Thomas S. Monson say it perfectly. “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”

I’m not saying forget you’re family traditions or drop anything that truly connects you to those you love. I’m just asking that you take care of you too this time of year. Give yourself the gift of freeing up some time and filling it with the things and people you really enjoy. What’s one thing you can let go of today? And what’s one thing you can fill it with that has meaning? I wish you a joyous, peaceful and playful holiday season. Sat Nam.

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