Learning from the Holiday Season by Christine Taylor, LCPC

The holidays are a mixed bag of emotions for many people, myself included. I can relate to my clients when they say things like…

“I miss break.”

“I don’t want to go back to real life.”

“I’m so glad the holidays are over.”

“I am ready for routine again.”

There are some wonderful parts of seeing loved ones, time off work, giving and receiving gifts, yummy holiday foods, the list goes on… the other side of that coin is often feeling worn out, frustrated with family, missing loved ones or feeling unappreciated. It can be easy to lose the focus of what we’re celebrating and why.

I would challenge you, as I challenge myself, to consider two things, “What parts of the holiday season can I carry over throughout the year?” and “What parts of the next holiday season can I have a better handle on?”

For some it may be making more time to be with family throughout the year. For others, it may be creating healthy boundaries with family. Maybe making time to be intentional about keeping in touch with loved ones – through cards, calling, and social media instead of waiting for their annual Christmas card update. Perhaps you need to limit your gift giving circle to avoid lingering debt that lasts months.

Other suggestions include:

  • Creating time for extra relaxation and sleep

  • Thoughtfully giving gifts

  • Making time for baking and cooking, perhaps providing for a neighbor, friend, or someone in need

  • Volunteering your time or donating to a charity regularly

  • Taking and sharing more photos of your family

  • Attending church or religious activities more regularly

  • Having pleasant conversation topics ready in your mind before social gatherings

I have found that reflecting now on what was challenging and what was extra special can help make next year’s holiday season more pleasant. It is like making a recipe over and over. If after making the recipe the first time I make notes of what I altered, I’m more likely to make the recipe closer to my liking the second time. If I do not take the time to make notes, I end up forgetting what I liked or didn’t like the first time and make the same mistakes the second time.

I plan to tuck a note card into the month of December in my appointment planner reminding me to mail my Christmas cards before the 15th, expect that certain family member to be loud and annoying, allow myself to sleep in after a long day with loved ones, make time for ice skating, and be sure to savor every bite of my great grandmother’s butter rolls at Christmas dinner.

As we’re getting back into our routines, we can all benefit from reflecting back on some of the moments we cherished this past season. What reminders will you leave for yourself?