This year, the thought of holiday decorating didn’t come with a feeling of enthusiasm for me, but rather niggling anxiety, the first signs of what could become full-blown holiday stress. Last year, it was different; I was excited to make wreaths, garlands, and kissing balls from evergreen boughs my children and I had gathered from a friend’s forest.
But this year is different. I have different priorities, one of which is caring for and enjoying my smiley, bouncy 9-month-old. Still, because I so love the smell of fresh evergreen during the holidays, I was going to make those decorations—no matter how I felt.
Then, I happened upon a passage in the book “All Year Round,” which is about celebrating festivals throughout the year. One of the authors, Christine Fynes-Clinton, gave this advice:
“One thing I must say is—and I can’t emphasize this too strongly—don’t overdo it! Resist the temptation to go overboard on celebrating festivals, especially if you have small children. The priority here should be to preserve your strength and calmness.”
“Preserve your strength and calmness.” These words resonated, and I felt instant relief from a burden I didn’t fully realize I was carrying. They gave me the reason I needed to let go of decorating and to shift my thoughts to more important things.
This year has not been an easy one for the world and many people are heading into this holiday in need of real respite and healing. Many are facing grief from the loss of loved ones, financial hardship due to job loss, unpaid leave, or medical bills, health issues, stress and anxiety, and family strain due to differing beliefs.
So if you are finding yourself burdened instead of joyful by holiday merrymaking, I invite you to join me in letting go so you can find your calm and strength.
And replace the holiday “musts” and “shoulds” with intention and joy. Fynes-Clinton has this to say about keeping festivals simple and meaningful:
“I can acknowledge a festival day with a different color cloth or candle on the table, or a change of picture on the wall. Perhaps I should make the point again that the festivals are to be celebrated only if we want to. … [The] festivals come alive only through our willing participation. There’s no point in doing something because we feel we ought to, or because ‘everyone else does it,’ is there? If we are personally convinced of the value of living with the festivals, we will want to observe them, and after a time we may notice that the festival happens in us, even if we are in bed with flu at the time.”
When she talks about festivals “coming alive” happening “in” us, I understand this to mean that, when celebrated in the right way, holidays awaken something of our soul nature—they give us a structure that allows us to experience more refined feelings than those we would ordinarily.
So this year, I will decorate very simply with candles in glass holders that I love and which came from the home of a dear family friend. Then I will make time to call this friend so she can enjoy some baby smiles.
Wishing you peace and joy this holiday season,