The Key to Holiday Happiness

What do you do to make yourself happy during the holidays?

This is a time for family, love, good times, happy feelings, and nothing should interfere with these expectations. However, the reality is that many people struggle getting in a good mood, having a decent time, let alone feeling happy during the holidays.

Holidays with Family

Big families who have large family gatherings may make it easy to make a decision to host or attend the holiday with family. As a child growing up in Wisconsin we always got together with my mother’s family when there were over 20 of us around the table. We would also have a second dinner with my dad’s family when there were 5 or 6 of us. Those memories are filled with fun, good cheer, a few disagreements, and lots of love.

If you attend holidays with family, make it peaceful and loving. Figure out what it takes to accomplish that and do it! If that isn’t going to happen, consider shortening your visit, changing your thinking and expectations, or not going.

As an adult I have spent many holidays with in-laws, traveling through the snow and having lots of different traditions. I have also spent some holidays with just the two of us, cooking the traditional dinner or eating out at some of the best gourmet restaurants in Las Vegas. I have hosted many family holiday celebrations from just 4 of us, 6 of us, and even 65 family and friends. Many of my adult holidays have been spent at the kids’ with 3 or 4 generations, at best friends’, at Sis’s or my God daughter’s. I savor all the good parts of these memories.

Holidays on Your Own

When I was single and living a long distance from family I got creative with deciding how I would spend the holidays. Each year it became a decision about hosting or accepting invitations and even inviting myself to friends’ celebrations. There were plenty of times I felt lonely, alone and desperate figuring where I belonged and what would bring me some happiness during this time of year when joy, happiness and loving family is the expectation.

I know many of you have trouble during the holidays dealing with loneliness and others of you have family but don’t want to deal with the drama and difficulties. It can be a challenging time for many. Some people are dealing with loss of loved ones, others with sickness, still others with financial difficulties. No matter what your situation, you have choices that can please you.

You may never replace the good times of childhood, but you have the opportunities to try new things and create new traditions. Hosting an annual holiday party is one solution I did for many years. Each year we sang “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and over the years watched the costumes and presentations grow with courage and drama. Inviting single friends to join me made me happy, too. Inviting a good friend and her family to dinner makes your friend happy relieving her of cooking; it gave me a family to be around and it felt good doing something nice for others. Baking and delivering foods to others during the holidays can fill your time and creativity. I make a great Stollen and fruit cake!

Doing craft projects, sewing, typing favorite recipes with samples, helping others decorate, asking for help with your decorating, volunteering, coaching someone on a topic you have expertise, and so on… are all activities you could try. One of the best gift-giving experiences I had with my son one year was when we were financially stretched; the 3 of us gave no material gifts, instead we did things for each other. The only purchase we made that year was a $5.00 plant from Safeway that served as our Christmas tree. That plant survives with many branches and leaves currently in our master bedroom – 38 years later! It fills my heart with good memories to savor daily.

Sometimes the empty holiday times might be an opportunity to do a project or write a proposal, start or complete your book, scan family pictures, clean out the closets, read a couple good books, catch up on a TV series everyone is recommending, start a diet, or go to the gym each day. When holidays give you extra time off work, it can easily become free time to accomplish something that you have avoided or procrastinated about. This is also a great time to plan your goals for the next 5 or 10 years. Put your energy into visioning your future self.

The Key to Holiday Happiness

There are many things you can do about your thinking and behaviors which can help you enjoy your holidays. Try to not hang out in your sad, lonely, or other negative feelings. Stop making yourself a victim. Focus on savoring good memories from the past. Savor good moments and circumstances in present time. Focus also on creating new traditions. And savor the future plans you commit to doing.

I think the most important thing to do in deciding what will bring you happiness and fulfillment during the holidays is to get your needs met and change your expectations. Let go of what you believe the usual traditions are that you think you should be having. Instead, alter your expectations based on your situation, practicalities, and choices. Then make something good out of it. Turn your personal lemons into lemonade, or the greatest lemon martini, lemon bars, or lemon torte to share with others.

This year, as like many others, we are spending Thanksgiving with Joe and Judy, my God daughter and her growing family. We are taking the best lemon torte! And savoring the happiness already…

Call me at 702-242-4222 or email me if you want help creating holiday happiness!

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