Life and Health

Rest This Holiday Season

The season has come crashing in like the old school Kool-Aid man; the holiday season is here. Whether we like it or not, it seems that the holiday season starts on November 1. I did see a meme the other day that indicated that the Holiday season runs November 1–23 and then picks up again November 26 until December 25 (or longer if you celebrate Three Kings Day).

Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash

On one hand, I can’t necessarily complain about the over commercialization of Christmas that overshadows the problematic history of the United States’ traditional Thanksgiving story. I feel like Thanksgiving needs a makeover in general; I think the ideals behind celebrating Thanksgiving are good: gratitude for family, friends, and what we have in our lives but not everyone has the same privileges and we’ve definitely arrived at those ideals through some sketchy historical shenanigans. There’s definitely a lot about our stories behind Thanksgiving that could use some transparency and updating but should this holiday be completely overrun by the Christmas onslaught that is already happening? It seems the Hocus Pocus crowd has already donned ugly sweaters and switched the pumpkin spice for peppermint mochas.

But what gets lost in the shuffle of this holiday changeover (so fast it gives you whiplash) is that the season is the reason for the season. I cringe whenever I see the “Christ is the reason for the season” or some such nonsense. The whole reason that this is the season of family, friends, rest, and gratitude is because it’s getting darker and darker out. Days are getting shorter, sunlight is lessening, and the ground can’t be used for planting.

Halloween, or Samhain, marks the end of the harvest season for individuals in areas that experience a winter. After Halloween, the world is going dormant from a biological perspective. When the hard work of planting and harvesting was completed, it was time to enjoy the time and rest, plan, and prepare for the next season.

Photo by James Padolsey on Unsplash

Days were shorter so people spent more time experiencing the community of each other and a chance to be grateful and hope to survive this treacherous time of constantly wondering “if it was enough?”

As a society, however, we have abandoned these rest phases and we are constantly working. It’s no wonder the feelings of burnout and stress are overwhelming, especially after having to “make up” for the past two years when things haven’t gone according to plan.

Yet instead of celebrating this season for what it is, we have over commercialized it and turned it into even more of a hustle with the parties and obligations, real or otherwise. We wonder why we are collectively struggling because we’ve stopped honoring the traditional rhythms of life. We were not meant to GO all the time.

All animals must stop and rest, we are no different.

This is not supposed to be a time of more stress but the obligations we impose on ourselves or feel imposed on us by society’s expectations are very real.

I remember when my daughter was born, all the “now you’re going to…” ideas that people thought would happen for the sake of memories. I refuse to fall victim to an overbooked calendar that leads me to feel more stressed and unhappy.

One of the “shoulds” that I don’t participate in is baking holiday cookies. I hate baking with a fiery passion so my solution is to buy a log of slice and bake sugar cookie dough, some sprinkles, frosting, and we go to town. My daughter’s favorite part is decorating the cookies anyway, but because I need to preserve my sanity I do it my own way.

Just yesterday my daughter asked if we could play “Find Rudolph” again. Rudolph happens to be a dollar store reindeer ornament that I hot glued a red pompom onto and then one day we hide it around the house to find and that’s what she remembers. She remembers us, together, laughing and having fun searching for this dollar store ornament around the house.

Many of the traps we fall into this season are a trick of marketing. You do not have to do anything you don’t want to do or anything that does not serve you/your family.

If you don’t want to get pictures with Santa, don’t do it.

If you don’t want to bake cookies, don’t do it.

If you don’t want to _________, don’t do it.

Pick and chose the things that are meaningful to you and your family. Come up with new traditions to celebrate the season. You don’t have to do this holiday season any other way than the way you want to do it.

You do not need to hold onto any tradition that doesn’t serve you or feel right. The whole point of this season is rest and reconnection to self and community after the work of the harvest. Reap the benefits of your hard work and remember to take a break.

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