Ahhhh…the holidays. They are upon us, and with them, come many, MANY opportunities to indulge. To eat, drink, and be merry. To enjoy Grandma’s pies and Santa’s cookies.
But if you’re anything like me, you experience a sliding scale of emotions when it comes to eating and drinking this season:
“I never get to eat Aunt June’s famous fudge. I think I’ll eat 10 pieces. That should set me until next year.”
“If I eat any dessert at all, I’m going to gain 10 pounds this month! I will not eat dessert.”
“Everyone is judging me for taking one more cookie. Why can’t I live a little, too?”
“I’m better than the rest of my family. They indulge all the time, but I am self-disciplined and said no to everything bad.”
These are extreme, yes. But I’m guessing you’ve had thoughts along these lines just like me. There is a mix of guilt and self-righteousness that seems to latch itself in our minds and hearts when we’re celebrating. And it takes our minds off of that very thing: celebrating!
Thanksgiving is such a beautiful time to pause, look around the table, and be grateful for those you hold dear. To allow yourself a chance to look back and see all of the blessings you’ve been given. Christmas is such a glorious time of anticipation and wonder. Every decoration seems to shout “let’s bring light to this dark, cold world!” And we are reawakened to the joy that comes with generosity.
But when we find ourselves on the guilt and self-righteous continuum, we lose focus on the celebration, the reason why we celebrate, and the people we’re celebrating with.
Instead, we find our thoughts focused on ourselves.
Go back and read the statements above. The common denominator is always “I” or “me”.
Not others. Not gratitude. Not anticipation. Not celebration.
So….how do we change this?
I wonder if arriving to these celebrations in a grounded, centered, and peaceful state would serve us all well? Staying deeply rooted and connected to the reason why we celebrate can aid us in keeping the purpose of this season at the forefront of our minds.
How can we do this amongst a typically busy holiday season? Finding space for silence is good way to start. This is no easy task, but perhaps if we stop telling ourselves we must be perfect in this season-perfectly disciplined, perfectly planned, perfectly dressed, etc.-we could allow ourselves that MUCH needed silence. We could ask for help from loved ones to care for our kiddos, or to run an errand or help with a meal, so we could have a moment of silence to remember to celebrate. We could have a moment to pray, or meditate, or write a gratitude list, or think, or walk around and see the lights-whatever we need to have the joy reawakened in us.
And from this centered place, you may be led in a new direction this holiday season. If you typically find yourself justifying reasons you deserve to eat all the sugar or can’t seem to stop yourself from eating more, more, more, perhaps this is a time to restrain a bit. Perhaps you can allow yourself to be drawn to other food options that keep your energy levels high so you can play with your cousins, and talk to your Grandpa, and be thoroughly present in the moment.
Or, if you typically find yourself restraining and constantly saying no and looking down on those who can’t seem to do so, perhaps this is a time to loosen your grasp a bit. To drop your feelings of guilt and just celebrate. To enjoy and drink deeply of the richness of the blessings you’ve been given and the time you get to spend with loved ones around the table. Be thankful for food that tastes amazing and your Mom’s uncanny ability to make the simplest desserts taste like heaven.
And remember…this is only a season. But it’s a rare season where we cease our typical routines and thus, tune our senses into new possibilities and old traditions. So when we arrive to those holiday parties, let’s drop our self-righteousness and our guilt at the door and let’s be free to celebrate.
Written By: Brittni Paris
Brittni is an alum of Colorado State University, where she mingled with the greats like Kellie Walters and Chrissy Chard. She currently resides in Hoosier Country, with her husband Hunter, working for Indiana University as an academic advisor to business students and donning the IU candy-cane striped pants. She spends her time taking ballet classes, listening to podcasts, biking around town, and hosting friends at her apartment and favorite coffee shops. Brittni earned a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S. in Health and Exercise Science, and is an ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist. She’s excited to pursue a career in wellness coaching, helping women see how great they are and how much good they can bring to the world.
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