How I restored magic to the holiday season. Part 1.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 1 of 6]

We are almost in the midst of the holiday season (already are, if you listen to the voices of retail) – which can bring on a lot of overwhelm. Overwhelm of stuff, of tasks, of people, of food – of emotions.

This did not happen when I was a kid. The overwhelm of Christmas was a welcome thing. Bring it on! was what I would have said. It wasn’t so much the presents, but everything about it. All the traditions. The magic my mom and my aunt created every year.

I’ve always been grateful I wasn’t taught that Santa was “real” (not disputing the historic figure of St. Nicholas here, just the mainstream idea of Santa). I don’t think I would have bought it anyway. That guy? in the mall? dressed up in a costume? uh huh. yeah, right. Obviously not the real deal and there was no way I was sitting on his or any other stranger’s lap for a picture. (I remember being very stubborn on this point. I expect I was also quite smug about it.)

So I never experienced that sort of disillusionment with the holiday. But in recent years I have experienced other forms of disappointment, confusion, exhaustion, emptiness and resentment of the season. I wanted the magic back.

Here’s how I got it.

This is not mission control.

My goodness, the build-up to December 25 in this country! Advent calendars are used not for the purpose of spiritual preparation, but to assuage impatient children and grown-ups alike. And the countdown! Hurry! Just 39 shopping days ’til Christmas! (That’s an accurate number, by the way.) You’d think we were launching rockets or something. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1! And we have lift-off of spaceship BabyJesus!

No other holiday dominates popular culture during its season the way this one does. It even holds a special place in our economy. It’s crazy. And crazy-making.

Because there is no way there is enough time between now and then to create the kind of perfection that is advertised, to do all our culture demands we do to get ready for this one big day. Decorations. Food. Parties. Cards. Gifts. I can’t think of anything that compares to this weird combination of scarcity in the midst of total excess. Crazy. Making.

Magic-Restoration Step #1

Stop listening to the count-down. Which means tuning out the advertising. (Which means you’re also conveniently not getting the message that buying more will make your holiday more meaningful – more on that later.) Turn off the TV, stop the newspaper, put down the magazines. Have the groceries delivered so you don’t have to listen to awful awful carols while you shop if you need to.

Do whatever it takes to protect yourself from the message that there is so much you need to do and so little time in which to do it. Because neither is true.

• • • • •

Already feeling the pressure to make new year’s resolutions? You don’t have to pay attention to them either. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn the better alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

• • • • •


6 Responses to “How I restored magic to the holiday season. Part 1.”

  1. 1 Christine Martell November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I have refused to participate in the madness for a number of years. At first family was a bit miffed, but over time, they have joined and found relief also. We are so much closer to the essence of the season now.

    • 2 Cairene November 16, 2009 at 7:16 pm

      @Christine –
      It’s tricky to go first, but someone has to, right? I’m glad your family has followed. Finding the essence is so much more enjoyable than the madness. -C

  2. 3 Barbara Martin November 16, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Adding my voice to the chorus of “Just say No!” … How did it ever get to this level of frustation, insanity and set-up-to-fail?!

  3. 5 Jennifer Louden November 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Thank you for helping us at the Comfort Cafe and also for helping me. I haven’t been a mainstream media person for years and don’t have any contact with the madness – I live on an island! But the need for magic is still there. The desire to find meaning with my weird mixed family. So looking forward to the rest of your posts!

    • 6 Cairene November 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm

      @Jen –
      I like to think the posts get better from here. :) And there was more I could say that I didn’t have time to add, so I hope you will ask me questions if you have them. -C

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



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