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Merry Christmas to All: Meaningful Holidays

When I was a child Christmas was the same every year.

Christmas Eve was spent with my Mom's family. There was a formal meal at the table. A prayer before we ate. And my sister and I, and cousins as they came along, would put on a little holiday concert. Singing when we were young and later instruments as we learned to play.

We opened gifts, sometimes there was a board game.

And that is what we did.

Christmas day was with my Dad's family. We would eat, exchange gifts, and huge numbers of cousins would run around and cause all manner of trouble. LOL

Cookies were baked and shared. Trees were decorated. Lights were on the sister and I joked that Dad's place was a bit like the Griswold's.

And my father reminds me so much of the Dad from The Christmas Story. LOL

Holidays aren't like that any more. I moved out of the state almost 20 years ago. I'm divorced and my oldest is in college. When I was married holidays were a little closer to what I had growing up. Not exactly, but closer.

Today they bear almost no resemblance at all.

Only my grandmother lives close enough to see, the rest of my family is back home in IL. I don't go to IL for's too cold.

Every year is different. Some years I have my kids and other years they are with their dad. This year is even more different, my daughter is out of town for school and splitting her time with me and her boyfriend's family. And I find myself single again.

I struggled a lot with holidays when I moved from IL. It just felt like doing anything wasn't worth the effort. Like it served no practical purpose. What I've learned is that something being practical was irrelevant. In fact, meaning for anything usually has almost nothing to do with practicality. Or at least it doesn't for me.

Do you find that is the case for you? That the more practical or functional something is the less meaningful?

I've spent the better part of 10 years figuring out that doing things for its own sake is what creates meaning. Today, while I'm celebrating a Christmas in no way close to how I have in the past, I wanted to share an insight that might help.

Joy is reason enough to do something. I forget this a lot. I often get caught up in the "adulting" of life. Yet I find when I don't do that experience become more enjoyable. So here's my insight -

Don't become so lost in the adult world that you forget the magic of everyday things. It's a cliche but try and get behind young childlike eyes. It makes meaning out of meaningless because the reason is to experience the joy.

The trick of course is actually doing it so be sure to...

  1. build in time to be mindful. Think about what you are doing before and WHILE you are doing it. Remind yourself what the meaning of the cookies are. Think about WHY you are doing what you are doing.

  2. do one thing you did when you were 7...or 14 whatever. But do it.

  3. share stories with your kids. Ask them about what they like about the holidays.

  4. keep themes, not details. It's not always possible to recreate a holiday from your childhood. But remind yourself what the meaning was behind the tradition and find a new way to experience that.

  5. remember change is inevitable. Nothing lasts forever so if you find your holidays are spent wishing they were like they used to be stop. That thinking does nothing but cause unneeded pain. I get it, and I feel it too, but after I've had a little cry I look around and literally count the ways my new holiday is beautiful and good. Even though it's different.

Whatever your experience of the holiday is I truly hope it is joyful. And most importantly, filled with meaning.

You deserve it.

Merry Christmas


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