DEAR KRISTIN: Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I am all-the-way stressed out. All I can think about is how my relatives will be stuffing themselves in my house, and how I’ll be stuffing all that food into my stomach. Ugh. As a kid, I remember the holidays being filled with fun. As an adult, not so much. What if the turkey’s too dry? What if my uncle flips the punch bowl over again? (It happened last year.)
I guess what I’m asking is how can I get my mind and my spirit right so that I can face the entire holiday season with joy rather than with dread? -- DON’T WANT TO BE SCROOGE
DEAR SCROOGE: If you don’t want to be Scrooge, then don’t be Scrooge. You are the only one who can set your intention, modify your mindset and change your behavior. I’ll tell you what I mean:
Decide now, in this very moment, to set your intention on embracing the holidays with love and grace. But be specific. The term “setting your intention” is not some New Age, hippie-dippy verbiage that just sounds good to say out loud. Setting your intention is a powerful, purposeful act -- as long as it’s followed by action.
If you intend on making the holidays joyful rather than stressful, think about what it will require. Make a list. Set some boundaries. Identify the potential problem spots and figure out, ahead of time, a few solution-driven scenarios. If you already know Uncle Felix is going to start working Aunt Susie’s last nerve at the dinner table, plan to seat them at opposite ends of the table. If it should come to it, be prepared, ahead of time, with what you’re going to say to Uncle Felix if he crosses the line; let him know his shenanigans are not welcome in your home.
It’s lovely that you can still remember the joy that the holidays brought to you when you were a child. Create some quiet time each day to take yourself back to those sweet days. Meditate upon them. Call them up. What was the source of all that joy? What did it look like? What did it smell like? What kind of energy moved through your childhood home that made you so happy?
For me, the smells of cinnamon and brown sugar were what filled my little life with joy during the holidays. The sound of my family’s laughter and the sight of the Christmas tree in our living room filled my heart with happiness. A lifetime later, I was able to bring those vivid childhood memories with me, to incorporate into the lives of my own two children. Joy like this is transferable -- and so, also, are the memories of joy. Our minds are stronger than we think: Tap into those warm childhood memories of yours and bring back those sensations.
I fully realize that creating joy and busting up holiday stress involves far more than just calling up childhood memories -- but it’s a great way to get yourself back on a happiness track.
So set your intention, follow up those intentions with action, establish boundaries and, to the extent that you can, get ahead of your holiday stress with preparation and visualizing a positive outcome.
Don’t let your stress rob you of your joy.