“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
I was doing a little holiday shopping the other day, and I happened to overhear a conversation that stuck with me.
“It just doesn’t feel like Christmas,” complained a young woman, shifting impatiently in line at the register. “I miss the way Christmas felt when we were kids! Being an adult sucks.”
Her friend sighed. “I know. I feel the same way! Christmas is just nothing but work if you are an adult. This Christmas morning, I wish I could just run down the stairs in my pjs and tear open a Barbie doll.”
The other young woman laughed. “Ok, I will tell John to return that necklace then.”
Her pal swatted her arm playfully, and the pair moved to the next register.
Their remarks swirled around in my head all day. There just something so relatable about their words, something so potent about their longing for Christmases past when the holidays filled them with nothing but excitement and love.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or a combination thereof, I think we can relate to the desire to enjoy the holidays with a childlike heart. Even if you had a less than an idyllic childhood, you probably can remember a time when the holidays would thrill you. The beautiful lights, the falling snow, the cheesy movies, the feeling in the air of hope and harmony…sigh.
Living up to such beautiful memories as an adult isn’t easy. Especially, because if you are like most people, your to-do list is probably a mile long this holiday season. And, not only do you have a million things to do, but you are also faced with emotional quandaries that can overwhelm you with stress and anxiety.
Instead of looking forward to Hanukah dinner or Christmas morning, you are thinking: “How can I afford the PlayStation 4 I know my little girl is dying for?” or “Can I really make it through this holiday season without blowing my sobriety?” or “Three days with my mother-in-law? God help me.”
Sound familiar? Here’s the good news. It is possible to recreate those childlike feelings of glee once again. You can greet the holiday season with openness, wildness, and pure playfulness. How so?
1) First, you have to understand that you are completely in control of how you feel during the holidays. You and only you get to decide. Your mother-in-law doesn’t get to decide. Your bank account doesn’t get to decide. Once you realize that YOU are in control of your mood, something amazing happens. You stop being a victim. You stop being angry at the world. Because you are fully standing in your own power. And that is an awesome feeling.
2) Second, you now need to decide how you want to feel this holiday season. (It might be useful to use a pen and paper). Jot down some things that come to mind, such as: Free. In love. Cared for. Safe. Excited. Important. Magical. Connected. Hopeful. Glowing. Silly. Strong. Good.
3) Third, think back to a time when you felt that way. Was it Christmas morning decades ago? Was it on the morning when your son was born? Was it the day you got married? Was it while on a solo vacation to the mountains? Whatever the moment was, bring that memory to life as much as you can. How did it feel in your body? How did you breathe differently? How did your heart feel, your hands, your stomach? Bring the sensation to life as much as possible.
4) Fourth, hold onto that feeling. Remember how it felt. How your heart rate changed, your breathing deepened, your heart opened and your chest expanded. Whenever you are struggling to get ‘in the spirit’ this holiday season, I want you to return that memory. Shut your eyes and inhabit those feelings as much as you can. Why do I want you to do that? Because when you do that, you instantly change your mood. You will experience immediate physical and emotional changes with this mindful practice.
And, best of all, you will be repaid by the universe in turn. When you live in an open-hearted, vulnerable, and joyful state, you will begin to vibrate at the highest frequency a human being can vibrate. You will send out powerful energy of love, courage, and hope, powerful energy that will be felt by everyone around you and ergo energy that will be returned to you. Because, as I have said numerous times (and as many other spiritual leaders, philosophers, scientific researchers, and poets have said: You get back what you put into the world. It’s the Law of Attraction. And this energetic reaction is happening all around you every minute of the day, whether you bring awareness to it and make it work for you, or whether you ignore and let it work you.
Charles Dickens once famously said that we should keep Christmas in our hearts all year. He was referring to the spirit of giving and selflessness, but I think keeping Christmas in our hearts can mean something even deeper. I think it mean realizing that we always have the option to be Scrooge or Tiny Tim. We can choose to wait for holiday magic to fall in our laps, or we can with the intention of being that holiday magic, not just for others but for our very selves.
As Bing Crosby once said “Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.”