“…Visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…”
This line from Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas” is a reminder of how visions of the holiday season are a common occurrence. People often have visions of exactly how events will unfold, how people will behave, what will show up under the Yule tree, how delicious the meals will be, etc, etc. These visions can be exciting and lovely. The trouble with such visions is when they become too rigid to accommodate the unpredictability of real life. I’ve found it is a guarantee that not everything will always go as planned and they more attached you become to the details of your visions, the more likely it becomes that some disappointment will follow.
Comparing the events of this holiday season to past holidays also causes disappointment. This is not to say there isn’t value in reflecting on happy memories of Christmases past, rather don’t expect every year to be like that one year when everything seemed to fall into place. The danger of comparisons is where there is a good, there is a bad. So while this may be the best Hanukkah ever, that means there will be a worst Hanukkah as well. Enjoy without judgement what you have now, in the present moment.
One more way that preconceived notions can get in the way of enjoying the season of the winter solstice is when you expect things will go poorly. You look forward, with gritted teeth, to that family gathering or community tradition. This vision will color your experience, so that all you can focus on is the negative and just how unbearable your obligations are. If you can shift your focus a little bit you will be able to detect the good, the worthwhile, the agreeable aspects and as a result you will feel more peace, if not even a bit of joy.
The key to happy holidays is balance in your obligations and your indulgences, honoring those things that you personally value, and maintaining flexibility in your expectations….if your vision of sugar plums turns out to be ginger peaches make the best of it.
Happy Holidays to all!