It’s a rainy Sunday here in San Francisco and I was thinking about you as I sipped my morning coffee.

I was thinking about how the holidays can be such a beautiful time — all of the colorful lights and connections with people we love.

And …

I was thinking about how the holidays can also be such an overwhelming and stressful time. Especially if we are grieving, lonely, ill, exhausted, or low on time or money. 

The holidays can be filled with unspoken expectation or obligation.

Here in the U.S. there is a cultural norm during the holidays that seems to include overspending, overeating, over-drinking and over-socializing.

How do we take care of ourselves during a time when the overriding messages might be at odds with who we are or how we really feel? 

This morning, I simply wanted to give you permission to pause to think about what YOU NEED.

How can this holiday season be a time that supports your heart and gives you strength? 

Are there events and activities on your schedule this month that you are dreading? If so, can you find ways to cancel them or somehow make them more doable?

Are there people whom you know will drain your energy? How can you give yourself a break from them? How can you redirect the time with them so that it fuels you? And if you can’t, is there a way to lovingly remove them from your schedule?

Are there endless things to buy or do? If so, can you challenge yourself to make a change? Could you find the courage to do things differently?

Are there traditions or rituals that you want to let go of? Are there those you want to add?

What if, as the quote above suggests, we choose to prioritize our inner peace? What would that look like? What experiences would we ask from others? How would we give to others differently? 

I want to encourage you to ask for what you need.
I want to encourage you to give only what feels true and joyful.
I want to encourage you to rest more.
I want to encourage you to let go more.
I want to encourage you to let others know when you are in the dark.
I want to encourage you to be the nightlight for people who are afraid.

My own story of living the truth of what the holidays mean to me

Ten years ago, my clan here on the West Coast made the choice to do things differently at the holidays. We always all fly to Ohio to visit my mom and other relatives back east … and we love that. But the cost and stress of all the flights and also buying everyone gifts was simply exhausting.

It also felt inauthentic. As if it were coming from that place of “this is just what people do at the holidays so we have to do it, too.”

We decided to create something that felt more aligned. We started what we call “The Holiday Hoopla.” The Holiday Hoopla is a themed day of activities, games, and challenges. We try to make it fun and funny. We add in great food. We decorate. We make it silly and relaxing and filled with long-lasting memories.

The Holiday Hoopla is our way of claiming the holidays in a way that feels right to us.

If you think something like this might be fun for you and your family/friends, here’s an article about it that I wrote for Kind Over Matter that could jumpstart some ideas.  Here are some other ideas on my website. As you’re reading about this, remember that your own version could be quieter or more intellectual or sweeter or more spiritual. Think about your own values, your own family, and know that you can create a ritual or event that is exactly right for YOU.

The point is: would you want to try creating an experience as a gift, rather than giving material gifts?

I want to put in a word here for families who are grieving or who are care-taking someone ill. Is there a lovely, more quiet, experience that will allow you all to be together in a way that is not stressful or that doesn’t insist on a fake cheerfulness?

If you are sad, grieving, or dealing with illness, how can you create a ritual for the holiday that feels supportive and authentic? 

I’m in your corner this holiday season, cheering you on to take the steps toward creating what supports your heart — and your inner peace!

Seek celebration — even in dark corners,
xo Sherry