Feeling Pressure in the Holidays?

We’re firmly into the holiday season. We’ve passed through Halloween, Thanksgiving, are today ending Hanukkah and yet have Christmas and the New Year’s celebrations.

Whatever your beliefs about the holidays, their celebrations -whether active or passive – can take tolls on many of us, especially if we’re perfectionists. Lots of my clients and readers are perfectionists. They are analytical, pushing themselves to discover, understand and apply all the details to their work. And doing so at work often means doing so when not at work.

What is important to you through the holidays? Are holidays times when you feel everything has to be just right? Or are they times you sit back and let go? Traditions often dictate how we respond, but they needn’t. Change is a part of life. We needn’t do things a certain way just because that’s how they’ve always been done. Interestingly, time shows us that holidays have even shifted in importance as well as practice.

Consider the reason for the holidays. Halloween was once a time to recognize the dead yet now it’s about costumes and candy. Thanksgiving was once a time to celebrate the earth and the goodness that comes from it and now it’s about family. Hanukkah was a time to remember the loss of land and temple and then celebrate or re-dedicate it to God as long as the oil burning within it lasted (eight days). Now it’s become much more popular in practice because of its proximity to Christmas. Christmas once was adopted from the pagan practice of the winter solstice, a break from agriculture and expectation of bad weather. To commemorate Christ’s birth, early Christians adopted the winter holiday as a time to offer Christ’s Mass. Today, masses of Christians and non-Christians also understand the economic impact of the holiday, of gift-giving and of a break from work. Finally, the Romans (Julius Ceasar) initiated the concept of the New Year celebration, including drinking, orgies and ending in human sacrifice. Today, countries all over the world make a practice of, with their own yearly calendar, recognizing the power of looking back and looking forward.

From a historical perspective, what we can take from this quick review are a few simple facts – 1. The build up of the holiday needn’t shape how we celebrate it but instead, interpretation is open to how we choose to celebrate. 2. Time will change the importance of the holiday. 3. Stress is based on our need to make the holiday perfect.

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On December 14th, 2015, posted in: downtime, stress by