I am a Christmas fanatic. I wear fairly gauche Christmas socks all through December. I start counting down to the 25th in early October. I make homemade advent calendars—including one for my dog, Olive. The list goes on.
My point is that I care about Christmas too forking much to let COVID “win.” Plus, I am too stubborn to let anything “get me.” No one and nothing steals my joy!!
I have spent a lot of time noodling over how I can make this holiday joyful. Or, at the very least, how I can make parts of this holiday season joyful. I am not Santa. I can’t erase COVID. What I can do is be the best emotional and health ninja that I can be…i.e., work to control what I can control!
Here is what I came up with!!
Get your expectations in check—tweak your mindset!!
Yes, I love Christmas, but I am also mature enough to know that this year will be different. If I expect it to be the same—or judge it relative to other years—I will be disappointed! Unrealistic expectations are the keys to discontent! Realistic expectations at least set the stage for happiness!
I have decided to call Christmas 2020 a “pineapple.”
My typical Christmas is an “apple”!
Pineapples and apples are close cousins—they are both yummy fruits—but they are also very different. They have very different positives and negatives.
Apples are shiny. They are great with almond butter.
Pineapples are higher GI and prickly, but they are also excellent for digestive health!
You get the point. Holiday 2020 will slightly resemble other years—hello Mariah Carey music—but it will also be different. Thus, I have recalibrated my expectations.
Life is too short to let this holiday season pass by uncelebrated. Plus, I need Santa and joy more than EVER!! So, I am taking intentional action to make sure that this holiday is special in its own way.
Before we get to the intentional and deliberate actions you can take to manage holiday 2020 (tips 3 through 5), we have to feel our feelings!
You can’t skip the “suck”!
Yes, recalibrate expectations. Yes, work to create new traditions and find the positives.
But first, feel your feelings.
You can’t skip the hard part—the “I am sad” part. Toxic positivity is never a healthy solution. 2020 was filled with crap. FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS! Mourn the loss of the “apple.” Apples are yummy; apples are what we are used to. Humans don’t do well with change, especially change we didn’t ask for. A lack of agency sucks.
Before we can embrace the “pineapple” we have to grieve all the traditions we will miss. I know I had to grieve. I will miss being up north with my dad’s family! I will miss Christmas morning with my lobster (my partner, James) and my mom. I will miss family dinner with James’ family.
I also know that I can grieve and miss my “apple” while recognizing the benefits of the pineapple (less driving, more time to read, forced outdoor time…and obviously the massive benefit to the world of keeping people safe and healthy).
As an added bonus I know that nothing in life is permeant. Next year (or the year after) we will have our apple back.
My question to you is, “How are you feeling your feelings?” Journaling? Talking to a friend? Crying?
Intentionally create new experiences. Intentionally find—or create—the fun. Intentionally find the gratitude!!
This holiday will pass regardless, so you might as well try to create some fun.
Corgi Christmas park party anyone? Dressing up my dog, Olive, as a reindeer and partying with a bunch of puppies in a park is 100% something I have never done before…but it will be fun! Who knows, maybe it will turn into a tradition we keep…a tradition we “fold into” our apple!! I am also really enjoying long walks looking at the holiday lights, and I plan to try snow shoeing and cross-country skiing!!
My questions to you are, “How are you going to make your pineapple fun? What can you intentionally do to make it enjoyable??”
Set yourself up for success—pull out all of your “self-care” ninja moves
We all need to take care of ourselves so we can survive the crazy that is COVID. The holidays are crazy at the best of times; this December is anything but the best of times. Staying healthy and sane will be an uphill battle. You gotta arm yourself.
How can you take care of yourself? How can you carve out time to exercise? Eat well? Get water? Get sleep? What can you say “no” to so you can say “yes” to yourself?
You have to make all your health ninja moves a priority. You need to be a ninja now more than ever!! You need health now more than ever!!
Ninja health moves include…
- Carving out 10+ minutes to go for a walk. Talk to a friend as you walk or do a walking meditation
- Putting on some music and dancing
- Creating a “healthy family challenge”
- Giving yourself a 30-day challenge—I will move 20 minutes a day, eat a vegetable with every meal, drink 2 L of water a day, etc
Prioritizing journaling? Meditation? Sleep? Whatever your top domino is!
“Stretch,” but ditch any goal of perfection
“Stretch” to make this holiday the best it can be, but DO NOT aim for “perfect.”
Perfect is never a good goal. Perfect doesn’t exist. Perfect is an especially unrealistic goal when family is involved, and when family collides with a global pandemic all hell breaks loose. “Perfect” in a pandemic is a hysterically funny/terrible goal. You will be miserable if you expect yourself, or your family, to act perfectly with one another or to be perfectly healthy.
Think of yourself like an archer (any athlete really). Athletes train and practice. They don’t assume that they should be good at their skill. They train to the best of their ability, but they also know that despite all the practice there are many factors outside of their control that will influence if the arrow hits the target. Absolutely stretch and strive to hit your target, but instead of being fixated on the target be fixated on the pursuit of the target.
As an “archer” I know that “success” through the 2020 holidays doesn’t require me to get a bullseye. I am rating my success on my resilience, growth mindset, compassion, and “pursuit”! Pursuit is the key.
This holiday season, “staying the course” is a WIN. 2020 will not be like any other holiday. Don’t expect that it will be. It will not be perfect—nothing ever is. You will probably fight with family—I know I always do. You will probably fall off of your fitness horse—you are human.
Your goal should not be to “never fall, to be perfect, to ace all your family interactions.” Your goal should be “present over perfect.”
Your goal should be “intentionally creating—to the best of your ability—the holiday that will serve you.”
Your goal should be to “stretch,” to strive to make things joyful for yourself and the people you love while knowing that you will not always hit your target. When things don’t go well, take a breather; have a conversation with yourself and anyone connected to the experience. Feel the feelings and work to take the next best action!
Join me in becoming a health ninja. The more rocks COVID throws at me, the more ninja health moves I will intentionally pull out of my tool kit! I will survive. I will create as much joy as I can. I have SO much to be grateful for. I will spend the season showing the people I love that I love them—virtually when appropriate! I will make this year special in its own way. Different, but memorable.
And when I get sad, I will own my feelings and then remind myself that nothing in life is permeant—this too shall pass, and when it does, I want to look back and know that I created as many pockets of joy—for me and all the people that I love—as I was capable of!!