Let’s Make the Holiday Season About “Living” and Not Just “Giving”

Check out my latest blog post over at WeAretheRealDeal.com, Let’s Make the Holiday Season About “Living” and Not Just “Giving,” or you can read it after the jump.
It’s that (most wonderful) time of the year –the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve that include Christmas, Hanukkah and parties galore–where women everywhere get stressed-out and overwhelmed that they’re juggling too much.

Between holiday gift-buying, holiday parties (hosting or attending), family drama, making travel plans, volunteering at their kids’ schools or a local soup kitchen, charity events, cookie-baking and gift-wrapping … women feel they have too many responsibilities on their plates.

I’m not here to refute that.

But I have a suggestion for all of us this holiday season. Let’s try to make 2009 the holiday season of living vs. giving.

Times are tight for everyone these days, and I don’t mean to imply forgetting about gifts altogether and forgoing making holiday donations … no, not at all.

Rather, I mean we shouldn’t forget to live and enjoy these next few weeks instead of running around in a frenzied state of mind because the decorations aren’t up yet.

We should give of ourselves … and I think we do that by living. When we give a gift we can’t afford this year out of obligation (telling ourselves, “But it’s the holidays…”) instead of creating an inexpensive but meaningful photo collage, for example, because we want to … we’re giving and living.

When we put our Blackberries or iPhones down after work and spend quality time with our families baking cookies or watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (a personal fave!), we’re giving and living.

Sometimes our time really is more valuable than anything you can wrap and put under the tree.

All too often, we spend our time, money and energy trying to make the holidays “perfect” and lose sight of the beauty of this time of year: a walk through freshly fallen snow; opportunities to people-watch from the (albeit jam-packed) mall; steamy mugs of cocoa in front of the fireplace with your kids and/or sweetie; the pleasure of a good book.

One of the things I’ve learned on my recovery journey is about letting go of some expectations so I can enjoy life a little more.

And so for me, this holiday season (when I can’t be with family), I’m trying especially hard to remember to live a little more — make more plans with friends; blog less and read more; spend some quality time with my husband (once his semester is over, that is!); maybe go to Chicago or go ice-skating in South Haven on our holiday break — whatever tickles our fancy those days.

It’s not always easy to loosen the reins, especially during a time of the year so full of expectations– but if ever there was a year to cut yourself (and your family) some slack, I don’t think anyone would argue that this year would be it.

How about you? How do you handle holiday stress and expectations? Are you willing to give the “live, don’t just give” mantra a shot this holiday season?

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