Today I’m excited to share a wonderful guest post from writer Deborah Fingerlow. Deborah is sharing all about how to create time and space to connect during the holidays. Learn more about how to design a holiday season that works for you and your life right now. Deborah shares her best tips to slow down, simplify and figure out what matters most to you during the holidays.
I think you’ll really enjoy Deborah’s thoughtful, authentic and practical advice to simplify the holidays. All so you can create more time to connect during the holidays with the people you love most.
That’s why most of us simplify after all – to have more time and space to connect with those we love most. And being able to connect during the holidays is so important for many of us.
If you’re looking for ways to connect during the holidays with the people you love most, you’ll love Deborah’s tips. I absolutely loved reading her advice about focusing on what is working for you right now, letting go of anything no longer working and finding connections in the big and small moments of life. Read on for Deborah’s guest post!
How to Create Time and Space to Connect During the Holidays
As a writer, many years ago I was taught the basics: who, what, where, when, why and how. The older I get, the more important the last two become. Why do I make certain decisions, and how do they align with who I aspire to be? As the holidays get into full swing, knowing your why and how can free you to make the choices that ring true for you. And you can experience the magic and joy of the holidays we each remember from our childhood. Regardless of who you are, it’s easy to get overwhelmed during the holidays. Take a peek with me behind the curtain and learn how knowing your why and how can make all the difference in helping you to create your very own connection magic, no crafting required.
Keep Holiday Traditions You Love
And here’s the kicker. You can change them to suit who you are now. The idea is to preserve the feelings the traditions elicit, not the process. In a society where, and when, we all work harder and longer, trying to replicate traditions set in place years ago just doesn’t work. And that’s okay.
Using Your Why to Tweak Traditions
My children began collecting nutcrackers when they were small. Each year, there would be new nutcrackers under the tree to reflect that year’s interest. One year my daughter received an Irish step dancing nutcracker, and my son’s was a wild-haired nutcracker playing the electric guitar. Family members joined in the fun, and the collection grew. A few years back, I was racking my brain trying to find appropriate nutcrackers. Why was it so hard to find a chemist nutcracker? And you’d think there would be one playing the ukulele, right?
And then I realized that the tradition wasn’t getting a new nutcracker every year. It had changed.
The tradition was my children getting together to unpack the nutcrackers every year. It was holding each one up to check the date we had written on the bottom and to remember what their interests were then. It was unwrapping the sad, little nutcracker that Rufus the bloodhound had chewed. He’s a little worse for the wear, but he always finds a place of honor on the tree.
The tradition has become much more than amassing a larger collection of painted wood figures. It’s a time for my children to reconnect and remember. Now that my daughter is away at university, that time means even more. Change your traditions to suit who (and where) you are now. It’s connecting with the feeling that matters.
Connecting Makes Your Heart Happy
It’s easy to recognize the joy we feel when we see friends and family. What we often overlook is the happiness that results from connections that are smaller, more spontaneous and just as important. And it isn’t complicated. It doesn’t require planning ahead or financial obligations. It only requires that you be in the present moment and open to opportunity. Studies show that these secondary, or minor connections, with folks in our community, contribute to our sense of belonging. They make us feel that we’re part of a greater good, and we feel happier.
Here’s the best part. It’s easy to do, and you can start today.
Hold the door open for the person behind you. Smile and make eye contact. Offer an unexpected greeting or compliment. Take time to notice the folks around you and engage. It really is as simple as that. Not only do you increase your own happiness factor, but you also help others increase theirs as well. Not everything in life is a go big or go home proposition. A small change in your perspective and behavior can go a long way. And you take these small changes forward as you prepare for the holidays; it really is all about you. In the very best way.
Holidays are Personal: Make Yours Look Like You
I love driving through my neighborhood during the holidays at night. We are a neighborhood of diverse tastes, and that’s reflected in the myriad of holiday decorations that festoon the homes. Some sport a single spotlight and a beautiful wreath on the door. Some resemble blow-up villages, complete with inflated reindeer on the roof. No two are alike, just like us. The point is: you do you, and I’ll do me. Regardless of your beliefs and how you choose to celebrate, or not, it can be beautiful. There is room for all.
So, choose what feels right for you. Choose what increases your holiday magic, and decreases added stress. If the smell of pine brings back good holiday memories, it doesn’t matter if the feeling is triggered by a freshly-cut evergreen tree you hiked up the mountain to cut down yourself or a balsam candle. What matters is the connection to the memory and sharing it with the people around you.
Give Yourself a Gift: Do What You Like, Like What You Do
Every year, we serenade the older folks in our neighborhood during the holidays. We don’t know all the words to every Christmas carol, so you’ll find us humming along after the first verse before moving on to an enthusiastic rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The neighbors don’t remember that we never know all the words, but they do remember that we showed up on a random Tuesday night to spread good cheer and wish them well. They remember the connection and so do we. Small connections matter. They fuel our enthusiasm and help to sustain us through the hectic season. It’s time well spent.
Stop Making A List, Checking it Twice & Never Finishing
It’s fine if your holiday efforts will never win a best-decorated contest. Mine won’t either, because it’s not my why. Embracing a philosophy of less is more in all things, we can get back to why we do the things we do. If we want to create a magical holiday for everyone, we need to remember to count ourselves in.
Slowing Down: All I Want for Christmas is to Enjoy It.
You get to choose, but you can’t enjoy the magic moments if you choose everything. The magic happens when we’re busy planning the next thing on our to-do list. The magic happens in small conversations, genuine good cheer and the memories our friends and family take with them from this year to the next. That’s real connection and real magic. And it really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Deborah Fingerlow is a writer, traveller and explorer seeking adventures both large and small. You can find her at a local farmers’ market, beagles in tow, talking with strangers. Her passion is connecting with folks in real life through conversation, therapy dogs, and on the open road, astride a vintage Vespa. You can find Deborah here:
“Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of humanity.” – Sean Stephenson
Sunday 16th of December 2018
Any family get-together is problematic. Our family is far-flung, plus we need to have kennel reservations in advance for the rescue dogs who share our home. Last year we drove to the nearest relatives for a day trip, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I keep an Advent wreath, it is a childhood tradition. We don't put up a tree or decorate the outside of the house. I also place glass ornaments in a crystal vase that normally lives on the mantel. I move it to a "place of honor" near the front entry. I put four stockings hanging from the mantel.
Simple Lionheart Life
Sunday 16th of December 2018
I love the way you have kept Christmas decorations simple. It sounds lovely without being overwhelming. I can see why travelling would be difficult with your dogs to make arrangements for. Figuring out what works for you and what doesn't is important. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience with us.