Ready to Skip This Holiday? Why No Just Make It Your Own?

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Do you feel panicked, or exicted? Are you experiencing joy or depression? Do you have childlike visions of toys and celebration with the people you love? Or pressure, loneliness, alienation and annoying relatives?

Sometimes we really can't help but ask "What is celebration? Do we really need it?"

I can tell you there were times after my divorce and my daughter's death that I asked myself those questions. My kids had moved out. I was alone. Holidays were just painful reminders of the life I no longer had. So I worked. I worked long hours just to avoid the malls with all that chirpy pain-in-the-neck holiday merriment. Bah humbug.

But the truth was, it hurt too much to celebrate. And I was the loser.

But you know what? Celebration is a ritual of life. It gives us a set of patterns, symbols and actions that mark important events and transitions in our lives. Right now, we're about to celebrate the ending of one year and the beginning of the next. It's important to do that. It's important to mark these times in our lives. You might say "It's just another day." and that might be true. But there's also a spiritual reality at this time that we need to recognize if only to celebrate the incredible, wonderful miracle of you.

"We can think of sacred ritual as the intersection of ordinary reality and spiritual reality. Ritual provides a safe framework, or container, for us to experience the sacred." Rachel Pollock - The Power of Ritual

Over the years I've found a number of different rituals and practices that have given me that connection. That spiritual reality. None of them are time consuming or difficult. In fact, I can honestly say they restored my sense of joy and wonder.

Releasing the past. This is the first step to recognizing endings and embracing beginnings. It doesn't mean we have to forget all that came before. It just means that we're releasing all the negative energy and stress from the past. When we take time to release the energy of disappointment or hurt, we open ourselves to forgiveness and love.

Write out the name of any limiting feelings you may be having. It could be sadness, or guilt, or a feeling of lack. If there are a lot of them, put each on a separate piece of paper. Then take each one and burn it. Then the next, then the next, until they're all gone. You may throw them into a fireplace, or burn them over a candle. As you do, watch them go up in smoke, rising upward and leaving your heart. Feel the release. Isn't it wonderful?

Invite new feelings to come in to take their place - love, sharing, friendship, creativity, or whatever you want more of in your life. You just created a vacuum, and nature rushes in to fill a vacuum. Make sure it is filled with all the good stuff you want in your life. Then seal the deal with another ritual. Celebrate each new feeling with a sip of a warm drink. Like hot cider. Or hot chocolate. Or mulled wine. Be sure you savor the taste and sensation as it warms and fills you. Know that these new qualities you are inviting into your life are now part of you and will grow with you in the coming year.

Gratitude. During the season of giving and receiving, it is easy to get caught up in the material hustle. So ask yourself: why the gifts? When you stop and think about it, they don't have to be an obligation. A burden. If you choose to buy gifts, recognize they're just a human way of showing our love and care. They're an opportunity to show our gratitude for what comes to us.

Think of other ways to express your deepest gratitude for all that you've been given. Allow yourself to notice it all around you, then honor it with thanks the moment it comes to you. This can be a game you can play by yourself or with others. Every time you smell a holiday scent, like cinnamon, turkey, evergreens or cider, think of a specific thing for which you are grateful. Or you may want to pick out holiday symbols, like snowmen, stars, angels, reindeer or Santa to trigger your sense of gratitude. Have fun coming up with ideas, and appreciating the rich symbolism we have during the holidays.

Renewal. As you get ready for the New Year, start fresh by releasing whatever hold you may have on the past. Release any negative thoughts you may have or people who don't support your excellence and growth. Take time to acknowledge any darkness in your heart and replace it with light and possibility. You can honor yourself by making this the best holiday yet.

Having learned from experience how to grow from adversity to outrageous fulfillment and abundance, Carole Hodges shares her expertise through workshops and private coaching. She works with adults ready to re-vision the second half of life. Learn about more holiday offerings at

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