pexels-photo-228799 Man with Coffee AOnce you become an adult, the holidays are challenging. You may be alone and missing the company of family and friends.  Or perhaps you are having to entertain too many people.  Some of us feel overwhelmed by the amount of cooking and shopping there is to do.  And for many, the expense of the holidays is stressful.  So, by the end, a lot of us are just happy that we survived Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That is why at a certain point, the holidays need to stop being about merely food and presents. Don’t get me wrong.  Food and presents are important.  Feeding people is one way that we take care of them.  And giving presents is an important way to show people that they are special to us.  But if we make the holidays solely about food and gift giving, it feels hollow.

During this season, we need to do things to feed our souls. Those things will be different for each of us.  For some people, it helps to “put Christ back into Christmas,” as the saying goes.  One way to do that is to spend the month of December reading and reflecting on the four gospels.  Others might enjoy reading something thought-provoking, like Harold Kushner’s classic book, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”  Or you might spend the holidays listening to Bach’s organ works or enjoying traditional fare like Handel’s Messiah.  The options for soul-nourishing activities are vast.

What is critical is that we affirmatively choose how we will spend our time during the holidays. Otherwise other people will choose for us.  And then we will end this beautiful season simply being relieved that it is over.

The holiday season admittedly has “built-in” irritations. The commercials are noisy and some of the music is crass.  And if you don’t shop online, you are interacting with people in the stores who are tired and frustrated.  For some of those people, trying to make ends meet during the holidays is no small matter, so their stress is understandable.

The key is to eliminate as many of the holiday irritations as possible. Turn off the television so that you don’t have to hear the commercials.  Instead read a good book.  When in the car or at home, turn off the radio.  You may as well listen to your own CDs instead of being subjected to the poor musical taste of some of the radio stations.  And do as much shopping as you can online.  In this day and age, there really is no need to ever go to the mall.

Then focus on making this season meaningful. Send a Christmas card in which you thank someone for the impact that he or she has had on your life.  Give gifts that don’t just have a hefty price tag, but that have sentimental value.  Read books with a positive message.  Listen to inspiring music.  Go to religious services to connect with God.  Pray daily.

You have the ability to make this holiday season something beautiful. You just have to decide in advance how you want to spend it.  Don’t let the world dictate how you will spend your holidays.  Instead, create a plan to make the holidays meaningful for you.  Use this very special time of the year to feed your soul.

(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

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