Can you smell that?
As far back as I can remember, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve has felt magical to me. Take out the commercialism and pressure of familial expectations, the stockings and presents (if you do those) and I still feel the magic. I can smell it in the crisp of the air sometimes.
Don‘t get me wrong. I love presents and I get real pleasure from giving and receiving--but I know that is not true for everybody.
The messages bombard us constantly. You know what I'm talking about. All the commercials advertising the perfect gift for our perfect someone or someones. The sales we CANNOT pass up. We clutch our pearls and watch our bank accounts shrink, and yet we still click the “Buy Now” tab, clenching our teeth and crossing our fingers that the gas bill debits AFTER we've gotten paid.
Often, we take this sort of pressure for granted as a necessary evil of the holiday experience. But the obligation can feel as heavy as a blacksmith's anvil (not that I've ever picked up a blacksmith's anvil, although I'm sure it's pretty heavy, ha!) and do we need to bear that much weight during an already heavy time of year?
As a child of divorce, I usually had a couple holidays per holiday. It's hard not to be chubby if you are a people pleaser and have to eat a couple turkey dinners with the trimmings, pie, and cookies. Even as a pie-loving kid, I found these obligations stressful.
What I have discovered over the years is that for me, less is more. I don't go to lots of holiday events. I MIGHT go to one, but am open to staying home and trying some recipe that I would never attempt at any other time. I plan little get-togethers with friends, often one-on-one. If it's fun, I'll make presents. I like walks at night to enjoy the holiday lights and quiet, and I stay in my PJ’s all day.
I believe that for true happiness, one must omit unnecessary obligations and find the fun even if that is NOT to participate in holiday festivities. If your fun is staying home with your cat and watching all of The Harry Potter movies, if you want to donate your time to a charitable event, if you want to sleep through the day...whatever that is not soul-crushing but soul-nourishing.... choose that!
I know blowing off obligatory things are often easier said than done, BUT if there is something you force yourself to do, even dread dealing with every year during this season, maybe start there. Who knows, if you've been missing it, maybe you might even feel the magic again!