Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and the first thing I want to give thanks for is my courage to disengage from all holiday expectations with the freedom to celebrate in a way that brings me Joy and Happiness.
After reading a variety of facebook posts, it became apparent that holidays have a way of trapping us into repetitive, often undesirable, scenarios. We continue traditions that no longer serve us simply because….well….because it’s how it’s always been done. Sometimes there’s a comfort in that, to resurrect the sweet memories of the past. Other times it’s a reenactment of unhealthy behaviors.
Holidays are meant to be a time of celebration. We all celebrate in different ways, culturally, religiously, ancestrally, familially, and personally. There is no one way to celebrate. So why do we get caught in the same old repetitive ways?
Oft times, it’s a matter of guilt. We’re intent on trying to please other people or afraid if we choose differently, we will hurt the other members of our group. Did it ever occur to you that others may feel the same way? Perhaps no one has the courage to suggest something different. Perhaps that person could be you.
For many years, I loved cooking Thanksgiving dinner and inviting everyone who didn’t have family in the area to join in. One year, I was overwhelmed with other things in my life and being the hostess extraordinaire felt like a responsibility, rather than an act of love. That was the first year I stepped away from tradition and created one of my own, which was much more simplified.
After living in foreign countries where the holidays didn’t alway jive with the ones I’d grown up with and continued to perpetrate, I began to see holidays from a whole new perspective. There were specific things I loved about certain holidays, things that really rang my bells. And there were things I was happy to leave behind.
As a result, I have boiled down those old traditions to their true essence and fine tuned how “I” want to celebrate them…or not. In some instances I totally eliminated holidays. And I don’t hesitate to change a date. If the people I want to spend time with are unavailable on the scheduled holiday. I move the holiday to a more convenient day and time. Who chose these random dates anyway?
I’m not a big proponent of present day Christmas. But I love celebrating the Winter Solstice. So I took all my favorite things from Christmas and created a grand Solstice celebration that feeds my soul. As a result, it’s become my favorite holiday, free of any expectations.
It’s time to realize that everything and everyone is in transition… including the holidays. If you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to transform your holidays into something more satisfying and celebratory… consider it done. I give you permission to do whatever rings your bells and makes your heart whoop! And now I suggest YOU give yourself permission to be your authentic self. By doing so, you give everyone else permission to become their authentic self. That, my friends, is the best gift you can ever give.
~ Sharon Lyn Shepard ~
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