The holiday season is rapidly approaching and things feel a bit different this year.
On one hand, it feels somewhat superfluous to be celebrating when there is so much tragedy in the recent news. Pope Francis has even said that Christmas celebrations are "all a charade... the whole world is at war."
On the other hand, there is a renewed sense of being thankful for what we have and recognizing that life is precious.
Regardless of how you have processed global events, or what your religious or political views are, this is an opportunity to review what is important to you--and make some changes accordingly.
Maybe this is the year that you want to keep things simple and forgo gifts as an extended family. Maybe this is the year that you want to start a new family tradition of helping others who are less fortunate. Maybe this is the year that you forgo the dreaded holiday dinner with that toxic friend/family member. Maybe this is the year that you spend the money to see your extended family so you can hold them close and tell them how much you love them.
It's your choice.
No matter what you decide to do for the holidays (which perhaps is nothing at all), make sure you are clear on what matters. There is much to be grateful for. Don't get caught up in obligations or in buying things that no one is going to remember a year from now.
To help you through this process of simplifying for the holidays, I've created a holiday checklist for you. You can write this off as "first world problems," or superficial, but I know that a lot of you are struggling to decide how to navigate the holiday season. Even without the events in Beruit, Paris, and Mali over this past month, many of you were already struggling with the loss of a loved one or a relationship breakdown that had already put a burden on the upcoming holidays.
So take this list, answer the questions, and decide what you want to do. Your values are probably not exactly the same as your family or your friends... and it's totally ok to stand apart.
Your [new] Holiday Checklist:
#1. How do I want to feel at the end of December? Rested? Calm? Happy that I've spent quality time with my family? (anything goes!)
#2. What holiday activities are going to bring me closer to my answer in #1?
#3. What do I need to let go of or say no to in order to achieve my answer to #1?
#4. What non-negotiables do I have to plan for during the holidays? Are they really non-negotiable? Can I redefine the obligation?
#5. What is important to my loved ones [spouse, children, extended family, friends] over the holiday season? Does this conflict with my answer to #1? If so, what is the brave choice? What is the kind choice? What is my choice going to be?
#6. Are there any important conversations I need to have, in order to communicate my decisions? If so, whom do I need to talk to?
#7. Who is going to be my cheerleader for these decisions? Who is going to celebrate with me at the end of the holiday season that I navigated through a chaotic month while preserving my values?
Deep breath. You've got this.
Previously published in Secondhand Therapy.