Tag Archives: Christmas

Staying Mindful During the Holidays

santa-claus-christmas-beard-celebration-41963We’re quickly sliding into the busiest time of year for retailers and shoppers alike.

I’ve been spending some time watching strangers rush around at the mall lately. If you’re not struggling to find those last few presents, it can be a fascinating way to use up half an hour or so of your time.

There are people who seem to love the thrill of shopping and jumping from one event to the next, people who are unbelievably stressed by all of the things they’re expected to do and to attend, and people who barely give any outward indications of how they feel at all.

If I could gather them all in the same room and talk to them about remaining mindful during what is the busiest time of the year for many people, this is what I would tell them.

It’s Okay to Say No

Several years ago, I unintentionally overheard a woman talking about how tired she was of buying presents for so many different people. She had no idea what to get for any of them and didn’t enjoy the process of searching multiple stores to find something that they might not even end up needing or liking.

I wish someone could have told her that it’s okay to say no to gift exchanges, parties, reunions, and other events if they don’t bring anything positive to your life.

There’s a decent chance that at least one other person in that group feels the same way and is wishing they could find a way to simplify their life. Mentioning how you feel could be doing them a big favour!

Even if you turn out to be the only one who wants to stop or change how things are being done, being honest about what you’re feeling in this exact moment is still a good idea.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

I have a meditation app that prompts me  to stop and focus on my breathing for one minute twice a day.

reflection-water-canal-mirroring-70574Since I started using it, my average resting heart rate has gone down a little bit. I’ve also been feeling more peaceful than I was before I began this habit.

You don’t have to spend a great deal of time meditating in order to benefit from it. While I am definitely planning to get back into longer sessions in 2017, it’s nice to take these short breaks and focus on the moment regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.

I am not a big fan of the huge crowds that form at this time of year. Meditation helps me relax when I’m in a situation where I’m surrounded by them.

Ignore the Hype

One of the other things I dislike the most about this season is how hard advertisers push to convince us that buying stuff is the secret to happiness and family harmony.

While I understand that this is a critical time of year for their bottom lines, ignoring the hype is an important part of staying mindful during the holidays.

Since I don’t have cable, Youtube is where where I see most of the ads in my daily life. A while ago they started forcing viewers to watch at least a portion of them before you could watch certain videos. There are times during the year when I’m willing to watch them, but I’ve been trying to cut down on how much time I spend on that site because I really need a break from advertisements for a while.

The nice thing about reducing the number of ads you see is that it can also reduce your number of must-have items. For example,  I find myself wanting fewer electronic devices and specialty food items when I haven’t given companies a lot of opportunities to market them to me.

Sometimes what you tune out is as important as what you tune into.

May the holiday season be a peaceful and joyful one for all of you!

Stuff I Miss About Celebrating Christmas

I stopped celebrating Christmas a long time ago for reasons that are hard to condense into a single blog post, but there are still some things that I appreciate about this holiday.

With the twenty-fifth of December rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fun to talk about my favorite parts of this time of year in today’s blog post.

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The Feasts

I love food like mashed potatoes with gravy, pumpkin pie, and devilled eggs. My mom would make all of this stuff alongside a lot of other delicious things for the big holidays.

We usually ate simple, one-pot meals throughout the rest of the year, so it was fun to sit down to something fancier at Christmas.

There are also plenty of snacks and treats that are only available for a short time during the year.

For example, my dad would buy the same kinds of German cookies and hard candies that his mother used to buy for him when he was growing up.

I’ve continued that tradition as an adult. It makes me feel connected to my grandmother even though we didn’t share many years together on this planet.

The Lights and Decorations

This is a dark, dreary time of year for the northern hemisphere. Ontario gets about 9 hours of daylight per day in December, but other places further north that get far fewer hours of sunshine than that. There are even towns where the sun doesn’t rise at all for weeks or months at a time.

(I don’t know about you, but I could never live in one of them!)

christmas-treeChristmas trees and holiday decorations in general make me smile because of this. It feels good to see so much extra light indoors.

Even the cheesy ones can be fun. There is definitely something to be said for putting in the effort to cheer up a public place regardless of what form it takes.

The candles, lightbulbs, and other festive baubles remind me that this season never lasts forever.

We will have warm, sunny days again even though it sometimes feels like the cold will never end.

The Time with Loved Ones

One of the few things I dislike about living in Toronto is that it means I live far away from my extended family.

I’m lucky to have good relationships with my parents, siblings, and other close relatives. We pack in as many visits as everyone’s budgets and workplaces allow, but I always wish we could spend more time together.

penguinsThe holidays remind me of how far away we live from each other.

When we’re apart during them, it’s nice to have a call to see how everyone is doing.

If we were penguins, it would look a little something like this. While the adults catch up on grown-up stuff, the little ones always manage to wiggle into the middle of the action to see what’s going on.

I’m amused by every single minute of it.

These are the things I carried with me once I stopped celebrating Christmas and started jokingly referring to the special meals I made as Festivus dinner instead. I wouldn’t give up any of these things I enjoy for anything in the entire world.

Regardless of what you’re celebrating or will be celebrating soon, I hope your days will be filled with light, love, and plenty of heavenly things to eat.