Festive Xmas ads and shop window decorations have already been with us for a while, and yet despite being surrounded by tradition many people can’t bare the idea of spending the upcoming Xmas holidays in the way “tradition” dictates.
Maybe it’s because I have always idealized Xmas in my mind. Maybe, because I decided even as a kid that I would make this week of the year special for me. But I don’t struggle with a must mindset this time of year like I know a lot of others do. Don’t misunderstand me! My decision didn’t mean that my childhood Christmases were the most idyllic in the entire world. But they were fulfilling for me. It is my core belief that we ourselves have the power to color our life moments the way we desire. So, “special” doesn’t mean having overdoses of glamour and extravaganza.
It means consciously deciding to provide an ingredient that gives those moments authenticity, a sense of humanity, of sincerity and of free expression of one’s creativity within the frame of whole-hearted warmth.
It’s about having NO “musts”*and lifting the burden of practices that we have been told have to be a part of the holidays. Things such as:
- Spend the day with specific people, e.g. family or a social circle you meet once a year, simply because “it’s tradition”.
- Wear fancy clothes or weird Xmas attire because it’s all about Xmas! Why? People who work hard during the holidays may wish to wear their joggers and trainers or their pajamas. After all being comfortable is the point of “vacation”.
- Listen to Xmas songs all the time. Actually, latest reports show that listening to continuous Xmas music can cause aggressive and depressive behaviors. Do we actually need so many external triggers, such as songs, clothing, and decorations, to get into the Xmas mood? Talk about forcing the Xmas spirit!
- Eat specific foods because it’s the custom. I personally refuse to eat turkey, because I don’t like it. I don’t like it 364 days of the year. Am I supposed to suddenly like it on the 25th of December? In the years before the food industry saw significant growth, turkey was a very popular main course in many US states because it was the most common animal that farmers could breed and provide to their families. In other countries, like Greece, pork and lamb were common. That was in the past. Now, food technology offers a huge spectrum of possibilities. So, why can’t we choose according to our tastes and our nutritional needs? There should be no crime in eating what you enjoy rather than what society dictates.
- Buy gifts for everyone in the family, just because “people exchange gifts during Christmas”. Who started this habit and when? Do you have any idea? Check history and see what was going on up until the 19th century. Yes, that’s just before the industrial revolution and the introduction of consumerism into our lives.
- Spend the day of Christmas carrying out a specific ritual. Why? Is there a tradition police fining for any deviation from tradition? Every individual is different with different backgrounds and life stories. Why are we obliged to behave like everyone else? Is this superficial social homogeneity important for our well-being? Nope, mental health specialists argue the opposite.
In my popular article about Christmas Expectation Frustration Syndrome I explained how important it is to be less serious about the holidays than the consumerism system forces us to be. Xmas is not about “attitude” or new fashion or conformity.
It is about human beings feeling happy but also feeling hurt and stressed and depressed and devastated.
I watch all this frenzy to “celebrate” Xmas and then I observe around the margins. In the margins I see people that don’t fit in the popular and socially accepted molds and are left out to be isolated, alone, sad and lonely. Is this Xmas to us? Is this the achievement of humanity? Have we reached so many milestones that this is how we behave toward our fellow humankind?
I don’t find this acceptable. If this is the only way, then there’s something wrong with our customs and they need to be redefined.
In my childhood’s idealized Christmas holiday, things are simple. There is time to rest, opportunity to read my favorite books while drinking hot chocolate. There’s playing board games with friends or having nice discussions with those I enjoy the company of. There’s crafting cards and writing wishes. There is lots of sleep and listening to my favorite music. But most importantly there is respecting the needs of others to behave and celebrate in their one unique way. Simply and freely.
I hope you enjoy these festive days in a way you really wish!
*People who know me and read this article right now are probably enjoying the fact that I am using the verb must, which I actually believe is very toxic for human creativity. You are right on the spot friends! I just want to show how this harmful word can block the human gift of free decision-making and creative thinking. Creativity is all about flexibility and resilience. It has nothing to do with forceful behaviors. That’s why “must” doesn’t have a place in a time that is meant to be enjoyed. Instead of must, let’s focus on more freeing expressions such as “wish to”, “apply”, “realise” “decide”, “do”, “put into action”.
I trully hope these ideas can be useful to you and provide you with a new perspective of Christmas, wholesome and resonating with your inner Self.
I would love to receive your feedback for this article and the ideas it contains, as well as your own experiences from past Christmas celebrations.
So scroll down this page and leave your comment. I would be more than happy to listen to your story! Seriously! Please do!
Merry Christmas to YOU!
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After a longstanding career in research at the National Centre of Scientific Research of France (CNRS) and the prestigious Collège de France of Paris, I have spent more than a decade focusing my activity in the successful treatment of phobias, panic and stress disorders, as well as the personal development and reinforcement of personal strengths, soft skills and emotional intelligence. I am a trained and expert therapist of these conditions.
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Last modified: December 3, 2018