Society puts a lot of demands on us during the Holiday Season.
First, comes the commercialized pressures of gift giving and spending money. The whole season is nothing but one big advertisement after another. We’re bombarded with a multitude of reasons we should be giving more gifts than anyone needs or could afford.
I remember the first time, BMW, Lexus, and the other major car retailers started advertising giving a new luxury car as a gift for Christmas. Watching that commercial, immediately I knew as a culture we had just turned a dangerous corner. I mean seriously, how many people can afford to give someone a luxury vehicle with a price tag of $40,000 – $70,000?
Not only is the notion ridiculous, but the undercurrent in most of these ads are aimed at helping the buyer feel superior to all others who can’t.
I’m in no way disparaging those who have great wealth. Good for them! I wish I had that kind of money. I’d be able to do more good deeds than I am currently able.
This is about making people feel bad, comparing, and throwing it up in someone’s face all in an attempt to make you appear better than someone else.
It’s about how we’ve lost sight of what Christmas is all about.
Maybe you’ve felt the pressure to conform to society’s standard about what Christmas is supposed to mean. Maybe you too have racked up serious debt trying to keep up with the Joneses. If you did, you more than likely have the credit card statements to prove it.
The question then becomes, how do you we create a holiday season that insulates us against what society wants to shove down our throats? How do we create a holiday based on OUR values and not societal pressures?
How To Create A Values-Based Christmas
1. Figure Out What Doesn’t Work
I’ll be honest here and tell you I gave in to those societal pressures once. It’s why I had so much credit card debt, spent thousands on Christmas each year, and finally found my way out of the hell.
Once I got out of debt, I realized I needed to figure out what I valued. How did I want to spend the holidays going forward?
I knew I didn’t want to replicate my past, but I did want the holidays to be meaningful and filled with the things that mattered to my family and me. I wanted to embrace some traditions and throw away others.
I sat down and asked myself a series of questions and found that so much of what I did in my past was motivated by what I thought I was supposed to be doing, not on what I wanted to do.
For example, I always held a Christmas Party each year. No one was allowed to bring anything. I did all the cooking, prepping, decorating, etc. I invited everyone I knew – the house was filled to the brim. It was a Martha Stewart experience.
In hindsight, it was too much. It was far too expensive, too many people were included, and I didn’t have any fun at my party because I was running around getting food out and refilling drinks.
Now when I have a get-together, the invites have been pared down to the people who are most important to me. I welcome people’s generosity who bring food and treats, and I’m able to be with my family and friends and embrace the season.
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself, your spouse or better yet, hold a family meeting and have a discussion about what you want the Holidays to mean to your family.
- How were the holidays stressful for you last year?
- Did you find you had too much on your calendar creating more stress than enjoyment? What would you like to eliminate and why?
- What holiday traditions do you dislike and why?
- Did your well-planned household systems fall apart under the stress and pressure of the holidays? If so, which ones?
- Were you wrapping presents at midnight on Christmas Eve? If so, why?
- Did you establish a budget?
- Did you go over budget?
- What did you spend more on than you wanted too?
- Did you feel close to family and friends? If not, why?
- Did you feel relieved when the holidays were finally over? What made you feel that way?
These questions are intended to help you identify what works for you and what doesn’t, just like they helped me.
Share your answers with your spouse and family so everyone has a clear understanding of what doesn’t work within your family structure.
If someone enjoys a holiday tradition, but another family member despises it, don’t try to resolve the difference yet. Just get it all out on the table first.
2. Figure Out What Works
Now’s the time to write down all the things that work for you and your family during the Christmas season.
Here’s a list of questions, included on the printable, to ask yourself:
- What did you enjoy last year?
- What went well for your family?
- What traditions do you enjoy most and why?
- If important to you, what spiritual or religious services were you able to participate in?
- Did you participate in any acts of service or volunteer work?
- Did you give to any particular causes that were meaningful to your family? What were they are why are they important?
- What were your top three Christmas activities?
For the past 20 or so years, I’ve spent an evening with my daughter attending a Christmas program. Sometimes it’s a play, sometimes it’s Holiday Pops. It’s a tradition that we look forward to each year. We get to spend one on one time together creating a unique holiday memory that will last a lifetime. It’s something I would never give up, and I know she wouldn’t either.
Maybe you do something special with your family just like this – here’s where you’ll identify those traditions that are near and dear to your heart.
3. Create A New Plan Based On Your Families Values
Now’s the time to take what you’ve discovered and create your new family plan. Ponder over everyone’s responses. Don’t worry if your family came up with more negatives than positives. This is the time to take stock, and it’s natural to focus on the areas that need the most work.
Becoming aware of all the negatives will help you develop this year’s positives.
Prepare to be surprised! Chances are, family members will bring a new perspective to the question of “What’s the perfect Christmas for us?” Children often have the best insights on what has been outgrown in the family.
Make a promise as a family that you’ll not be lured into the commercialism of the Holiday Season and you’ll make the focus of this Christmas on the things you value as a family.
Your family will lead the way to the best path to take – will it be the path of stressed out events that no one enjoys, or the course were the family becomes closer, and all have fun.
In the end, your family will be moved towards creating a Christmas filled with peace, joy, love – the reason for the season.