Keeping the holi-days holy is no easy task! These days celebrating the winter festivities usually means spending a lot of money, indulging in decadent food and drink, losing sight of all healthy routines, and often being confronted with an immense feeling of isolation amidst crowds of people buzzing everywhere. How is it that something meant to be merry and festive causes such dread and exhaustion?
We often use the holiday season as an excuse to the leap off the wagon (the wagon of “good behavior” that is) and dive into decadence because why not…tis’ the season!
And I must admit, I am a big supporter of having a flexible attitude and allowing for indulgence because getting off the wagon, back on, falling off, and working your way back is simply the reality or rather, dance let’s call it, of life.
The question is, how can we do it in a way that stays pulsing and true without plummeting into the dreary holiday hangover that tends to follow? I would say, the answer lies right smack in front of us-in the word itself-Holi-day. Indulging in our desires can be a very holy act, when we do it in full presence of heart and soul.
Full recognition of the splendor of giving and truly receiving a thoughtful gift infuses the experience of exchanging gifts with a whole new kind of joy. Think about it, there’s the act of buying stocking stuffers, fillers, and fatteners to make the space under the tree/gift corner look abundant. Or, there is the abundance of finding a thing, extending a gesture, or perhaps expressing words that can embrace some one in the immense feeling of being loved and considered. In doing so, you give them permission to embrace you in that same way, and that feeling is out of this world.
Believe it or not, savoring succulent seasonal delicacies, desserts, and spirits can be a spiritual experience too. I’m serious. (I have had quite a few culinary experiences in which I swear I hear Ravel’s Bolero at its climax somewhere in my head).
Acknowledging the Grace behind the fact that such deliciousness even exists, that we have the sensory perception to experience it, and that there are people who are willing to put the effort into preparing such goodness is a practice in mindful awareness. And mindful awareness lends itself to sensing the divinity surrounding us. To eat with wonder, joy, and yes…gratitude is a holy act indeed.
The hardest one-dealing with family drama or a family that lacks drama and is boring and stilted-how can this possibly be anything but holy…hell? Well. This one requires a bit more work, but the truth is healthy, hectic, or hazardous relationships all have a role to play in our growth. And when we can begin to relate to our family members with that kind of awareness, the conflicts become less personal and more informational. We learn something about how we communicate, how we are impacted, and where our resilience lies. This deep awareness that can only surface in the context of relationships (particularly with those closest to us) is again, a practice in mindful awareness. To pay attention to ourselves and others, opens our lens in a way that expands our consciousness from holy hell to hallelujah!
So. How does this prevent the holiday hangover?
When you actually absorb, truly absorb, all that is fulfilling, you stop trying to fill up an empty void. Then, when you hit your limit, you simply stop; there is no over-doing anything, because you can actually feel satisfied with your experience. And the cherry on top-from this place you can consider moving into your new years resolutions with eagerness instead of guilt.
Last little tidbit, create your own ritual or tradition this season; one good one is to light a candle or some incense on December 22, the winter solstice. The longest/darkest night of the year is a powerful day to reflect on this past year and decide what you would like to put to rest and leave behind, and what you would like to invite in for next year.
Wishing you a splendid new year!