Christmas Rituals and Habits – Heinous or Happiness?


Christmas Rituals and Habits – Heinous or Happiness?

Do your Christmas rituals and habits make you happy or are they just tired relics impacting your health?

This time of year can be overwhelming. We often do things on automatic pilot without questioning the impact this can have on our emotional wellbeing. Sometimes rituals and habits from Christmas’s past should be permanently shelved instead of dusted off for another go around. 

I have pondered how the rituals and habits of Xmas have changed for myself and my family over the years. As children, it was one of the most exciting times of the year. What’s not to love about school holidays, mountains of food and sweets, gifts, Santa Claus and the reindeer, Christmas carols, and Midnight Mass? The day itself was a blur of ripped paper, dreams come true and bellies so full we needed an afternoon sleep.  

We were mostly oblivious to how Christmas was for the adults in our lives. But as we grew older we started to recognise that Christmas was fraught with all kinds of tension. 

Christmas comes with expectations

For our parents, the inherited obligations and expectations of Christmas were hard to shrug off. Weeks of preparation fights over who needed to do what each year, present choices, who was going to be invited, and the guilt and obligation all added up to heightened tension. In a single day, all the old family dramas and dynamics came out to play, making the day difficult, to say the least. They clung tightly to the old, even when it made them exhausted and miserable. They did this for us. I was very blessed to have parents that loved us so much.

My father was a Small Business Owner for some years. The summary above doesn’t even begin to cover the financial and other pressures associated with him having time off work. What one would hope was a happy time was full of worry, stress and feeling torn about family responsibilities and customer demands. And this before social media reviews were even possible!

Even as a Small Business Owner and my understanding and observations of my father’s experience, I clung to my families rituals and habits over the Christmas period for years. Why do we still cling to the old despite our awareness of how miserable it can make us? Perpetuating the same expectations and difficulties, spending our precious time in ways we don’t want to, feeling anxious tense and sometimes even inadequate? 

Surely this is the definition of insanity?

So what was my antidote?

Chuck the whole lot out and start again

You are not your Christmas history… especially if it makes you miserable. You do have the ability to reframe and reclaim this time of year if you are prepared to challenge the status quo. As human beings, our resistance to change is legendary. We are neurologically wired to resist it… even if we are miserable. Stay conscious of this as you make your changes.

Here are some simple ideas that might help to shift your Christmas rituals and habits.

My hope is that the changes you make might help you to embrace this period with open arms. My wish is that this time supports and refuels you rather than defeats and stresses you.

  1. Make a list of the things you struggle with at this time. This should include the people, situations and things that happen that really push your buttons.
  2. Strip everything back to dot points. Keep it simple. Simple is easy.
  3. Find at least three alternatives actions or solutions for each issue that is more aligned with your happiness. 
  4. Discuss these options with your team/family/friends to make it happen.
  5. Create a plan of action around the changes and get it in motion NOW.
  6. Be clear and firm in all communication. Others may question you, stay the course. 
  7. Take note of what feels in positive alignment with how you want your holiday period to feel. Do more of it.
  8. Refine this process every year to make sure it reflects how you wish to continue. 
  9. CELEBRATE every occasion when your holiday period is happier and more of an expression of you and yours

Take time to reflect

At the end of the period, reflect on where you are going not where you have come from. Be conscious and grateful for the changes you have managed to make. 

Christmas rituals and habits can work for you if you consciously create them to be a reflection of your values and priorities. Consciously letting go of the relics ensures your wellbeing and happiness. Everyone benefits from that.

Have a wonderful holiday period no matter what it looks like for you.

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