Notes on a Conscious Christmas

Ok, full transparency time. I do not like Christmas.

In general, I don’t care for most modern holidays. They have become commercialized caricatures of what they were meant to be.

When I sat down to write this post, I had pretty much worked myself into a lather over it. I wanted to start off with “I hate Christmas!”. It’s a black hole of stress.

I know it.

You know it.

We still get into it.

It’s unconscious and stifling. I prefer my holidays to be living and breathing.

War on Christmas

Is there a war on Christmas? Yes. It’s the battle in our bodymind between what we know in our gut to be true and what the god of commerce tells us we should want. That’s the war on Christmas. It’s a war on ourselves.

In my own family, I watch us all get cranky and short-tempered around Christmas trying to figure out what to get people, the timing of the decorations, who is hosting dinner, etc. Some people want to plan ahead, others plan last minute. It’s just a general mess, really. But because it’s ‘tradition’, everyone is stuck in the same tired, worn out story.

But then I visualized myself as a client sitting down to a session full of piss and vinegar. (FYI, I give clients in that state of mind about 2 minutes of bluster and that’s it. 2 minutes tops and then stop that damn whining.)

So I stopped my own whining and refocused with a more important question: What do I want? I’m very clear on what I don’t want. But the path of ‘don’t wants’ is a field of poppies and we know that didn’t work out so well for Dorothy. But what to do with holiday stress, yo?

Before I get there, though, I wanted to put together some basic ideas on holidays in general. I tried to extract any religious words to try and get to a foundation of why human beings would spend time and effort on these things. I came up with some basics. Holidays in general circle around this ballpark (not an exhaustive list):

  • A break from normal activity
  • Commemorations/Honors
  • Memorials
  • Honoring of cycles, natural or otherwise
  • Re-affirming connections and community

The particulars of these change depending on the culture but they generally describe what holidays are about. When I say culture in this context, I’m talking about everything from racial and national identity to corporations, communities, and families.

The important thing to understand is that the particulars are stories derived out what is common and known to the culture they come out of. So what to do if those stories start strangling rather than supporting? Let me spell out how I see stress in this situation:

  • Suffocated
  • Thinking
  • Restricted and
  • Encapsulated by
  • Strangling
  • Stories

A strangling story is one that has been around for so long that no one thinks about it anymore, much less re-writing it.

Here are some notes on how I consciously re-write holiday stories. If one or two resonate with you, give them a try. Remember, focus on what you want to make more of, not what you want to get rid of. (what you give energy to gets bigger)

  • What I really want is to take the time off from my regular grind and spend it:
    • Resting my bodymind
    • Recharging my bodymind
    • Reaffirming my connections
  • What I really want is to honor my values so I:
    • Spend my time with my family of choice as well as my family of origin
    • Spend my time with those where there is a mutual building up of each other
    • Focus on positive/uplifting experiences with those people
    • Support causes that match my values
  • What I really want is to tap into the larger human story here so I try to:
    • Honor the heart of the larger cycle behind the holiday
    • Consider where I was in the previous point in the last cycle
    • Evaluate my vision for my life and my place in it

The inspiration for making these ideas concrete came from a quote I ran across on a blog called The Minimalist Mommy in which she speaks to my heart saying: “we don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed, and tired”. No, we fucking do not.

What are some ways you constructively make your Christmas (or any holiday) more conscious? Contact me and let me know. Let’s build a list we can share and make that our gift to the world this year. Here’s an idea to get your creativity flowing:

  • Pick a charity who needs volunteers and go spend time there helping out. If you do not have the time to schedule this, ask that charity what fundraising efforts they have and contribute that. One of my favorites makes tree ornaments each Christmas. I buy a bunch of them and give them away as gifts with a note about the charity and what that ornament means in real life…food in the bellies of children who would not otherwise get to eat.

Merry Happy All The Things to you!