Let me ask the question on everyone’s mind: How on earth is Christmas only 3 weeks away? Seriously, this time last year I was packing my suitcase for the long trek home to Nashville with my hubby. How are we at this same point in the calendar nearly 365 days later? As we embark on the last month of 2014, I’ve got this feeling bubbling inside me that it’s going to be a real good one. I mean, how can it not be—Christmas is this month! Can I get a ‘woot woot’?!
Christmas is a special time of the year that brings people together. Have you ever walked around the shops and noticed people just seem friendlier during the Christmas season? (Unless you’re bee-lining towards the last Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa on the shelf of Toys’R’Us. Then there might be a cat fight!) Child toys aside, this month brings a cheery, warm season where the excuse to get together with friends and family doesn’t even need to be stated. Heck, it’s Christmas! We gotta plan a gift swap or dinner party, right?
So, that’s what I’ve been doing. Double dinner dates, beach hang-outs, girlie pot lucks and planning the Christmas lunch menu with the family. I thrive off connection.
But, with all of these holiday gatherings, I can’t ignore how much I’ve grown over the years. I used to freak out for the whole month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was always filled with parties, celebrations and, well, FOOD. I secretly dreaded it.
I didn’t trust myself around a dessert table or dishes I didn’t cook myself. My brain couldn’t compute more than one ‘splurge’ a week so the holiday season sent my obsessive thoughts into over-drive. Glitch. Glitch. I didn’t cope well for years. I mean, yearsssssss.
I loved the food but I loathed it at the same time. I enjoyed the company but was simultaneously self-conscious. As much as I tried to be in the moment, I couldn’t focus due to the chatter in my head. Ya know what I’m talking about—-the chatter that tells you what you can and can’t eat, how many calories you’re consuming, how many miles you’ll have to run tomorrow and how little willpower you have. Rather than enjoying the juicy red meat or home-made red velvet cake, I was practically eating it to medicate the guilt and shame I was enduring at the table. It was literally crazy-making!! And until I got so sick of this scenario defining my holiday memories, I kept experiencing it.
Then, one year I said enough.
I realized—and believed deep inside my heart—that life is meant to be enjoyed. Interesting notion, huh? ; )
No food choice, no dinner table was going to take away the joy that was waiting to be tapped into. No negative thought, no false belief was going to control me or my health any longer. I knew the truth and I was going to start claiming it. Yes, it took strength. Of course, it took courage. Most importantly, it took faith. I believe in something deeper than my own (sometime irrational) rational and (sometimes lacking) willpower.
Here are my top tips that will help you go forth this season with ease, joy and lightness. Sans guilt, shame, and the dreaded anxiety.
- View each day as ONE SEPARATE day. Make (food) choices moment by moment. Don’t look regretfully at yesterday or fearfully into tomorrow. What do you desire in this moment? What looks appetizing at this dinner party? Make your best choice and move on.
- Detach from drama. Bringing people together (especially family) can bring up past issues or comparisonitis. Remember that no one can make you feel a certain way. You are in control of your reactions, choices and attitude. Choose to enjoy the company around you, the meaning behind the season and the cherishable memories being made. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Practice self-care during the stress. The holiday season can bring added stress simply because there is a lot to do: shopping, organizing, baking, decorating, entertaining and that’s just the major things! In these heightened moments of busyness, it’s important to step away and breathe when things get overwhelming. Make sure not to over-commit yourself and only say ‘yes’ to things that Light. You. Up. This way, you are saving your energy for what matters most.
- Go back to your Big Why. If you find yourself getting agitated or flustered, remember the meaning behind the season. For me—Christ, family, connection, nostalgia and good food (yah!) It’s important that these values stay at the forefront so you can easily sift through and discard any of the fluff. Let your ‘Why‘ guide you with joyful ease.
My hope is that Christmas can be a time of joy and love for you and your family. My prayer is that food is a component that adds sparkle and meaning to the season rather than anxiety and guilt. I’m currently reading this book which totally goes along with this sentiment. Highly recommended!
Merry (early) Christmas & happy celebrating,