Sent December 21, 2019
‘Tis the season to keep boundaries, fa-la-la-la-la…
I am by no means a grinch. My family celebrates Christmas, and as a highly sensitive person/empath I soak up that magical feeling of watching the little ones encounter Santa, the sparkle of the tree, and will never shut down the chance to look at holiday lights while sipping hot cocoa. Well, almost never. The universe decided to make sure I’m practicing what I preach this year, and sent me a severe cold/sinus problem that lasted for 2 weeks, followed by a long weekend of sleep-disrupting heartburn (ah, the joys of aging). Like I mentioned in my email last week, I took the hit and embraced the season desire to rest more, do less, and enjoy me-time.
This is an interesting comparison to how I used to enjoy the holidays. In years past, I used to jam Christmas magic into every empty crevice of my calendar. A recovering people-pleaser, there wasn’t an ugly sweater invitation that I denied, nor a Secret Santa that I shot down. I felt that the more I did, the more I would find joy in the holidays. More celebrating = more holiday spirit, right?
For some this is the case. Bless those extroverts, who get their energy from social interactions. Until this year, I didn’t have a firm understanding on why I found myself exhausted during the holiday season. I love family time, the opening of the gifts, and the traditions; but, too much in my schedule was simply too much for my body. I would often end the holiday season broke, tired, and sick.
So this year, I decided to make a new tradition. When a form of celebration came up- everything from a party, to decorating, to viewing Christmas movies- I would ask myself:
“Does this matter to me?”
Now, this may seem really self-centered. In a way, it is. It’s looking at all of the “prerequisites” and asking what significance it has for me. What I mean is not simply “What’s the payoff?” but rather, what is the emotional impact of this act for me? This question has guided me to make a few different decisions than in other years.
Rather than dragging myself through the snow and a pocket full of kleenex, I asked my partner how he felt about waiting on getting a tree until I could enjoy it. When he told me that he would prefer that, I knew that emotionally it was a better decision for both of us. I wasn’t hurting him, but I also wasn’t hurting me in the process. It’ll be more magical to enjoy the process together when we’re both fully present and healthy. So, on December 15 we are tree-less; but that doesn’t mean we don’t have holiday spirit.
I’ve also made the controversial choice not to send cards this year. In other years, I loved designing “Season’s Greetings” templates with photos of my dog. But with the limited energy my health has given me, I acknowledged that the idea of designing, addressing, and mailing did not bring me joy as it had in other years. Instead, I’d rather store up that energy so that I can be fully engaged in the celebrations with family and friends that I’m excited to attend. There were moments of fear where I wondered what friends and family would think; however, I know that those that truly love me value my health, too.
This doesn’t mean just saying “No” to things. I’ve said yes to using my time for projects that light me up, such as designing custom books and coloring books for the little ones in my life, and finding tickets to events I’d love to attend with my family. If it lights me up, I do it. If it doesn’t, and it doesn’t ruin the Christmas cheer of my housemates Henry and Al, I’m forgiving myself and giving myself the gift of gentleness this season.
What I choose to do may change year to year. I’m more of a fan of the tradition of choosing joy and health during the holidays rather than running myself down. I encourage everyone to take a moment to evaluate what sparks your joy this holiday season, instead of going on autopilot through this busy time of year.
Host of Watered Grass