With the Thanksgiving Holiday now behind us, we are fully launched into the Holiday Season. What a wonderful time of year to spend with family and friends celebrating rich cultural, religious and/or spiritual occasions. As the weather turns colder and the colorful lights of the season animate our neighborhoods and city streets, I’d like to emphasize the importance of prioritizing the meaningful relationships in our lives.
This time of year lends itself to many celebrations. We may find ourselves completely booked on the weekends, often with competing social or occupational gatherings. For many, the numerous Holiday parties bring great joy and companionship, but for some, the litany of social obligations may cause overwhelm.
We may feel immense pressure to attend as many parties as we have received invitations for, and can struggle to find a balance between showing up in support and declining when necessary but feeling guilty about our absence. This time of year is ideal for reconnecting with loved ones and celebrating our social relationships, but can inadvertently result in the neglect of our most prized relationships, as we attempt to keep up appearances and overbook ourselves.
Here a few ideas to consider as you decide how and with whom to spend your precious, valuable and limited time this Holiday Season.
Prioritize your Relationships: Take some time to consider the important relationships in your life. Consider which relationships you feel most connected to and value most. Think about ways to prioritize these relationships during this time of year by refusing to allow more casual relationships or social obligations to take you away from them. Consider important relationships that you wish to cultivate or build upon and focus your energy into those people. By focusing on the relationships that bring us joy, stability and a better quality of life, we are better able to show up fully present, engaged and relaxed in life.
Be Gracious: Whether you must decline or deal with a guest declining an invitation you’ve sent out, be mindful of competing obligations and tread respectfully and timely when responding. If you must decline, be straightforward and honest instead of the typical non-response that often happens when we feel bad about not coming. As a host, make it easy for guests to RSVP, even if they decline. By appreciating their response you cultivate a relationship based on authenticity instead of obligation. Don’t take it personally if a guest declines and recognize that those in attendance have made your invitation a priority and should be celebrated.
Make a Date and Stick with It: Last week my partner and I planned time together without the distractions of friends or other family. We realized that our busy schedules, although fun and exciting, were preventing us from engaging in our one on one time that we value tremendously. We made plans for dinner and movies on the couch, just the two of us. It wasn’t easy to graciously decline a few offers from friends and family, but it was a priority for us to recharge, reconnect and prioritize each other as we head into this busy season. Find time to focus on the person or people that mean the most and invest in them at all costs. We often neglect the most important people because they will “always” be there, and, in my opinion, this is a terrible excuse.
Reflect on the Meaning of the Season and Live it! This can be a very special time of year for many. Spend a few moments every day reflecting on the importance of the season and consider ways to share that meaning and importance with those you love. Instead of getting caught in commercialism or consumerism, spend time appreciating the cultural, religious, family, and/or spiritual significance of the season. Often we fall victim to the pressure to buy gifts, pick out the perfect outfit or attend all the celebrations, but if we simply slow down and focus on the meaning of the season, we are better situated to launch into the New Year feeling a sense of gratitude, love and connection.