How to Really Enjoy 
the Holiday Season
By Jonathan Robinson



Twas the week before Christmas and in my own house I was frantic and hurrying,and felt like a louse. That was five years ago. That day I vowed I would never again get sucked into the hype of the "Christmas Spirit". Instead of running around, fighting traffic, and losing my temper with store clerks, I decided I would do whatever it takes to really enjoy the holidays. After all, it's supposed to be a time of celebration and spiritual renewal. Why not make it into one? Of course, if you're at all like I was, you will have to change how you "do Christmas" if you ever hope to truly enjoy yourself. I've found that four simple keys can help people turn their hurried Holidays into heavenly Holy days.

First, try to remember the original purpose of the Holiday Season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, they both represent a time to appreciate the blessings of life, God's grace, the end of darkness and the beginning of new light and hope. Can you remember a Christmas memory from your childhood that was filled with joy, comfort, and love? That's really what we all want to experience during the Holidays. Yet, sometimes it seems we're being led down a fast flowing river that only leads to stress, insecurity, and even sadness. By having a clear picture of what a truly happy Holiday Season would be like, you have a fighting chance to create what you want. Without your own unique Christmas "fantasy" to hold onto, you're likely to be swept into the currents of what everybody around you is doing.

Once you have an idea of what you would like to experience during the Holidays, your next step is to figure out creative ways to avoid what you don't like about Christmas. For example, if you don't enjoy running around buying a lot of presents, then don't. Most people ask themselves the wrong question when it comes to planning their Christmas. Subconsciously, they think, "What should I do now that it's the Holiday Season?" If you "should" all over yourself, you will never enjoy Christmas. Instead, it is better to ask yourself, "What would I love to do to spread joy and good cheer this time of year?" Listen for your own unique answer to that question. By following your heart, you will feel the joy of Christmas, and enliven the Spirits of those you love.

Each year when I ask, "What would I love to do this Holiday Season?" I get a different answer. One year I decided to simply write letters to friends and family telling them how much I appreciated them. During another Christmas I sent people copies of favorite stories and jokes I had collected during the previous twelve months. No two Christmas seasons are the same. This year I have collected my favorite comics, copied them, and sent them to people I love. Although I rarely buy actual presents, many people have said they appreciate my gifts more than anything else they receive for Christmas. People like things that have a personal touch. How might you share with your family something that has brought you a smile or touched you in a special way? If you don't like to buy expensive presents, figure out alternative ways to express your love.

A third way to keep the Spirit of the Holiday's alive is to give a present to your self. I don't mean another sweater or necktie. I mean something that will help you to experience the joy, peace, and sacredness of life. Last year, my partner and I spent three days in Yosemite in the middle of December. Leaving the craziness of city life for the grandeur of nature was the best present possible for both of us. This year we plan to go to a desert resort. As we sink into a jacuzzi bath while listening to Mozart, we will be sure to reminisce about the madness we left behind. What would be a treat you could give yourself that would add meaning, joy, and relaxation to your winter season? Schedule it in now, before you get too swept up in the Christmas rush.

Lastly, to have a truly Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah, plan ahead for something you would truly like to do. If you are not spending the Holidays with your family, call some friends and see if they are available. Perhaps you can create a meal together, play a fun board game such as Pictionary or Monopoly, or simply have a meaningful conversation. In my book The Little Book of Big Questions, I offer readers more than 200 questions that can spark lively conversations and help keep the Spirit of Christmas alive. Perhaps around a Christmas dinner you can ask your friends and family questions such as:

1) What's your favorite Christmas (or Hanukkah) memory? 2) What was one of the most special moments you experienced this past year? 3) What are you truly grateful for in your life right now? 4) What was the worst Christmas gift you ever received? 5) What gives you a real sense of joy in life?

Asking questions like these to those you love can help bring intimacy and a sense of the sacred back into the Holiday Season. Your fondest Christmas memories are probably not of presents you have been given, but of special times you have spent with people you cared about. Having a really good conversation with a friend or family member can be one of the best "gifts" you ever receive.

Although advertisements try to convince us otherwise, the Holiday Season is not a time of ease and joy for most of us. If you plan to have a good Christmas, you need to be deliberate about creating a sacred time with yourself and/or the people you care about. By following your own heart, and keeping true to the original purpose of the Season, you can make these your best Holidays ever.

Excerpted from "Shortcuts to Bliss: The 50 Best Ways to Improve Relationships, Connect with Spirit, and Make Your Dreams Come True," by Jonathan Robinson, $11.95, Conari Press (800) 685-9595.

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