I was shopping for Halloween
decorations in the “seasonal” section of a big box store and experienced a mini
electrical jolt when I rounded a corner to encounter a wonderland of Santa
sculptures, nativity scenes and light bedecked Christmas trees.
Halloween definitely elicits a few horrors. I must have seasonal
amnesia. I truly forget each year (and I’m currently in my 58th) how
early stores begin featuring Baby Jesus with a light bulb in his head on their
showroom floors. (This was late September) My husband, son, and I,for
years have had a bet as to when the first signs of Christmas would appear (kind
of like the star over Bethlehem followed by the Three Wisemen).
Now, let me be quick to say, I
LOVE CHRISTMAS. When I contemplated converting to Judaism in my former
marriage, I was perfectly willing to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and spend the day
fasting in quiet contemplation on Yom Kippur. However, giving up
Christmas was out of the question. As women, though, we are
particularly prone to feeling responsible for holidays and special
occasions. It’s déjà vu all over again as we face the prospect of endless
shopping trips for perfect presents and food for feasts. We will make the
annual pilgrimage to our attics, climbing rickety ladders retrieving ornaments,
strands of burned out lights, and ceramic Santas. Garland and gifts
gradually take over guest rooms (Where will the kids sleep when they return
home from their fall semester? After all, aren’t they the reason we engage in
these rituals every year?). We will watch Miracle on 34th Street for the
34th time up to our elbows in cookie dough and wrapping paper. We often spend
money we don’t have in pursuit of an ideal nestled into our memories leftover
from Christmases past. Sometimes those memories don’t match the reality of the
frenzy inherent in the festivities.
Perhaps we just need a reminder
to help us escape from the stress and schedules even for a second or two and
re-discover the playful side of this colorful holiday. I know my brain
gets tired of checking off the incessant to-do lists. Let’s try
envisioning a different kind of holiday, one that might not feel so
harried. It helps to have a visual mantra reminding us to approach the
holiday with a more playful attitude. I know what this
symbol looks like to me…it’s my Yogi Santa.
A couple of years ago I created a
polymer clay Santa seated in a lotus position on a yoga mat. It now lives
with the rest of my Christmas collection most of the year. I smile each
year unwrapping this whimsical art piece. Yogi Santa reminds me to kick
back a little and breathe through the frenzy of the holiday
What about you? Are you
satisfied with your winter holiday traditions? Should you think about
imagining a different kind of holiday, one that might not feel as harried?
What would your ideal holiday look and feel like?
Why not try Santa’s 12 tips for
celebrating an ideal holiday. While these may be Christmas focused, they
apply to any religious tradition or special occasion.
1. Color Your
Christmas – Forget those boring white lights. Color is a lot more fun and
adds a sense of delight and playfulness in keeping with the spirit of the
2. Hang Out With Friends
– Save time and space for friends and loved ones during this holiday
season. Those will be the cherished memories long after the decorations
have been stowed back in the attic and the re-gifted presents returned.
3. Do Traditional
Things- Trim a “real tree” not an artificial one. It helps make the
holiday more authentic. I know it’s kind of a pain wrestling the tree
into its stand and making sure it stays upright. Real trees certainly
have their share of imperfections, but they can serve as a reminder that things
aren’t supposed to be perfect. Besides they smell so good.
4. Go on Vacation-
Ok, so this idea may be far from traditional, but sometimes you might just need
to use the holiday season as an opportunity to take a much needed
vacation. Even if Christmas or Chanukah is about family, sometimes one
needs a break from family. Going away provides just such an excuse.
5. Enjoy Others’
Traditions. There is Chanukah, Ramadan, Quanza, and Boxing Day.
Christmas isn’t the only celebration occurring during this season.
Surely you have a Jewish friend or two.
6. Sing Holiday
Songs- After all, aren’t carols some of the only songs we know by
heart? I know that is true for me. Singing tinsel tunes just puts
me in a better frame of mind.
7. Eat Forbidden
Foods – We diet all year long. Christmas calls for a vacation from
dieting. And don’t feel guilty. (OK, so just don’t eat the
8. Give to
Others- Let generosity be your guide during this holiday season. (That
does not necessarily mean, however, overindulging your children)
9. Breathe – relax
and breathe in the midst of the frenzy and festivities of the season.
(And while you say you don’t have time, taking a yoga class or two will help
you with the whole breathing thing)
10. Enjoy Your
Family- Pause amid the Christmas chaos and spend precious time with those
you love. (My Dad died this year. I’m thankful I spent Christmas
Eve with him last year and many years before).
11. Ask for Toys-
Don’t let the kids get all the toys; ask for a few for yourself.
12. Toast Yourself for Living
Through the Past Year- Toast yourself for living through one of the worst
economic years in our history.
Whatever your spiritual
tradition, may it be colorful, fun, and filled with goodness.