I would like to suggest a revolutionary approach to the holidays, although I hope some of you are already doing it. That would be to reduce or cut out the outer activities, and use more of the holidays for rest (yes!). Then in that rested state, you might reflect on the meaning of this time of year for you, or on anything else that wishes to arise from the depths.
You may not at the outset know what to reflect on. You could start with memories of past holidays, but try not to stop there. Your attitude might be receptivity without expectation. And you might reflect better outdoors, or with a candle. If your mind wanders, just come back to what leads to the most feeling, interest, or curiosity. If you need some support in this, you can try reading this post on downtime, solitude, silence, and loneliness, especially the poet Rilke’s comments on how worthwhile it is to do something difficult that could be meaningful.
Now, the Revolution
Then, I hope, that when people ask you what you are doing for the holidays or comment on how difficult this time of year is for them, you’ll tell them what you are doing. If they are interested, you might encourage them to reduce the intensity of the season by one outer activity and use that for inner activity. Yes, go inward.
I hope we do not destroy the entire economy by lessening holiday spending! Revolutions can be tricky. But even a few more people using some other time in this way might make a difference. Now I am thinking of the an earlier post.
My husband and I have spent two weeks in November, including the week of Thanksgiving, doing a personal meditation retreat, with time for individual solitude and silence between meditations and some light entertainment in the evenings. We will spend a week during the December holidays in the same way. (People often ask me how I get so much done. Well, I work hard and rest hard, enjoying both. A clear mind allows one to do less and accomplish and enjoy more. End lecture.)
Of course there will also be time for a visit from our family, and some gift shopping on line. We don’t eliminate everything. And admittedly, at our stage in life it is probably easier to cut back. I am saying all this merely to lead by example. Maybe you will have your own victory to share with others.
What about solitude becoming loneliness? The same post on solitude also discusses loneliness. Loneliness can be a visitor during the holidays, even if you decide on purpose to cut back on your social events. It’s funny how choosing to be alone can turn suddenly into feeling left out when others are gathered to celebrate. That might be a time for music, or a call to someone who might also be alone.
I also know that some of you are more alone during the holidays than you would choose to be. I have tried in this Psychology Today post to be perhaps a little help with that. In your case, you fight in a quiet revolution to overthrow a different tyrant (some people do make it, even after years), and just to be still engaged in the fight indicates great courage.
Happy revolutionary holidays,