It's Friday after Thanksgiving here in the U.S. My boys were all up and at'em bright and early this mornings, they heard the call of the ocean. I'm slowly making my way into the day with a cup of tea and pumpkin pie. A big bowl of seed garlic is waiting to be planted per my annual day after turkey tradition. Some years ago in an attempt to find a way to remember to plant my garlic in an otherwise full season, I decided that it seemed fitting to swiftly follow a day of harvest celebration with planting and by making it always happen on this day, perhaps I stand a chance of getting it in the ground in time for the California winter rains for a timely summer harvest.
My mom dropped in for a quick chat about "how we want to do the holidays this year" and it got me to thinking, maybe we would enjoy a similar chat here, together?
How do you make your way through the holiday season? Is is different every year? Is it steeped in tradition? What's the conversation around gift giving and receiving? How do you gift?
I see gifting as a beautiful way to celebrate our family values. From the reason behind why we choose to celebrate, to the way we do that, there are opportunities for digging in a bit deeper and bringing even more meaning to an already bedazzled season.
Clarity is the first step. What is it that is really important to you? What are your core values?
A few of our core values around here, in no particular order are:
~ Creativity, and time for it!
~ Nature, and time for it both in enjoyment, connection and in a stewardship sense.
~ Health, on a body/mind/spirit level
~ Family, and time for it :)
So, how does that help with holiday planning? For me, it helps a ton. These values, and some more, are my guide and I'll be checking myself as I make my way through the next month.
When my children ask for the newest piece of screen technology, or if they happened to do so, the conversation both with them, and with myself, would likely involve a real look at our values of Health, Family and Nature, oh, goodness, and the rest all play in as well.
Your values are likely to be different than mine, and translate into life in a way that's unique to you. The magic of knowing our own values is that we have a framework for creating our very own guide to live by, and allow us to leave behind the temptation to simply 'do as they do.'
So, back to the technology conversation, how's it going to be used, how is that in relationship to creativity, time for community, family connection, brain development, physical movement and actually kindness, too, as often the transition from screen time back to interactive relationship is rough. I would also be having a conversation about our value of Nature and the resources used in making that new gadget, and if that's a good trade or not.
We've had this conversation a time or two, can you tell?
As for Kindness and Family, this can be a real tightrope walk for me, as I try not to misstep along that journey between wanting to create quite a magical experience during this season for my family and also wanting to show up for my people with all the reserves to allow for easy kindness. When I expect too much of myself, which I have done for years in December, I am more likely to be agitated and snippy, resulting in a downward spin ending in that moment my head hits the pillow in a could of regret and swearing tomorrow will be better. But, today is all we know for sure, right now, and I want to feel kind towards my family in the now. Often this means I choose one or two favorite cookies, not twelve different kinds to make, to allow space in me for kindness to be my natural place to come from.
Creativity, can be supported so many ways in this season of celebrating and giving. Thoughtfully crafting gifts together, and for each other, is my favorite part of doing the holidays with my boys. As we create together, we can choose how to show kindness and share our love with others, we can talk about making choices in our materials that support our love of nature and a healthy environment. If we don't have time or desire to make it all, we have a blast looking to the creatives in our community to support.
If you often feel overextended and hard pressed to really tap that feeling of JOY we all hope for in this season, try to take a moment with a cup of tea or glass of wine and really relax into dreaming, start with five core values, what's really important to you? How do you love to use your time? What do you want for your loved ones to experience? How about health? And what's your hope for our environment? How about your community?
When you have a handful of values that feel really true to you allow yourself to write, in no fancy perfect way, just spill it out onto the paper. Explore all the ways that the things you do in the holidays may, or may not be, consistent with your values. Begin to imagine how you might feed your loved ones and support your values. How your might gift and support your values. How you might facilitate magic for your loved ones and take exquisite care of yourself. How you might have conversations with your children about the choices you are making to support your values, so that they can see you living from a values based framework.
Once you have some clarity and inspiration consider who else you need to communicate with, who else plays a big role in creating the way you make your way through the celebrating, what might they need to know to help support your values aligned vision?
It was really important to me that we be clear about our intention of not filling our home with plastic toys when the boys were young and that needed to be communicated to all the many people that would be lovingly gift giving. We were clear that we did not want to add to the landfill in this way, as is inevitable with plastic toys, so giving other meaningful alternative suggestions.
I always get a signal, loud and clear when I'm not in integrity with myself, it shows up as agitation, or even anger. Anger is about boundaries, so always I look to where in myself I was unclear about a value and how I allowed that value to be dishonored, how I have not made or held strong boundaries around the important parts of me.
We can also identify values for the way we wish to feel in this season, so that we have a guide for cultivating kindness, peace, calm a sense of giving or whatever is true for you. I wrote more about this in Natural Mother Magazine last year and your can read that article here.
Wishing you all abundance of joy and time with your loved ones this cozy winter season!