Choose Peace this Holiday Season

DenaDecember 12, 2011 | holidays

Recently I asked my Twitter and Facebook communities for tips on Surviving the Holiday Madness. Along with their tips, many people told me why the the holidays cause them stress.

Manu said that he gets hung up on thinking about gifts. To combat this, he concentrates on the fact that spending time with family and friends should be the main focus of the season. He sets his intentions on helping others and being cheerful.

Scott said that he feels like he is being judged. For example, if he and his wife do not exchange elaborate gifts, people assume that they must be fighting. He wishes that people would be less judgmental. “What makes a holiday any different than the other 365 days out of the year? I show and share my passion for my wife everyday,” says Scott.

I received a couple of responses via Twitter that said the best tactic to avoid the madness is to simply refuse to participate. | Tweet | Tweet

Finally, I received some personal messages—

  • This Christmas will be difficult because it is my first holiday season since my divorce.
  • The holidays are hard for my family because we are reminded of the loved ones we have lost.
  • This season will be particularly difficult for my family as I recently lost my job.

Although the holidays are supposed to be a magical, wondrous time of year; they can very easily become a nightmare. A few years ago I wrote a post called 6 Tips for Stress Free Holidays and while I think that the tips there are still very useful, today I want to address some of the deeper issues that surround the holiday season.

If we think about all of the things that cause holiday stress, there is a common thread. It is quite simply a lack of peace. It is a bitter coincidence, as the holidays should be the most peaceful time of all.

If we want to reverse the tide, we must transform the stress into peace. In order to do this, we must acknowledge the stressful things and then, actively choose peace.

Indeed it can be a very difficult thing to do while we are surrounded by the madness. Still, there is much that can be done to diminish the madness and ignite the peace.

The advertisers and retail establishments of the world might have you believe that you are in fact a terrible husband if you do not buy your wife that diamond tennis bracelet. But you know better. Acknowledge what the retailer is trying to do. Then, choose peace. Recognize the intense love that you feel for your partner and let that grow and flourish until it is so bright that all of the marketing schemes in the world could not extinguish it. And when you feel that you are being judged, let that love-light burn again. If the person judging you has not experienced a love so bright as yours (a love that doesn’t need materialism to flourish) than feel no less than pity for that person. This idea can be applied to a romantic relationship, but also to any potential gift-giving scenario. The key here is to resist falling into the death grips of consumerism. If your relationship (professional, romantic, friendship, etc.) is truly contingent upon material gifts, perhaps it is time for a reevaluation.

The loss of a loved one—whether to death, to divorce, to war, or to any other thing—is never easy. In fact, the pain can be damned near impossible. The only thing that I have found that provides any solace in these instances is to love until it hurts. I mean, literally, get out into your community and love wildly. Head to your local soup kitchen and serve hot soup until your arms are sore with love. Volunteer at your local animal shelter and walk puppies until your legs are sore with love. Walk around your local park and pick up trash until your back is sore with love. This idea can be applied to any scenario that causes you sadness or emotional pain. The key here is to replace your sadness with unbridled love.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. —Mother Teresa

When we boil it down, the holidays are a microcosm for life. We can choose light or we can choose darkness. We can wallow in the despair of our circumstances; or we can choose to create new ones. The holidays act as a sort of microscope. Suddenly, all of the good becomes very clear. And, so does all of the bad.

So we must choose, very carefully, what we will focus on. We must choose what life we will create for ourselves. This holiday season, I encourage you to choose peace. Allow the madness to fall away from you. Do not get wrapped up in the insanity of consumerism. Do not let the pain of loss drag you down. Give love and expect no reward. Choose peace for yourself and in turn, spread peace to the world around you.

In love & light (and peace!),

Comments (12)

  • Ashley Lorelle

    December 12, 2011 at 6:22 am

    You eloquently put into words what I’ve been trying to express to my loved ones this holiday season. They are all coming to me with stress and worries about not being able to afford that perfect gift, making their house clean and presentable for guests and their growing to-do lists. I keep trying to tell them that the holidays are more than all that. I’ll have them read this.

    1. Dena Botbyl

      December 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Your loved ones are so lucky to have you there to help them focus on what is truly important.  <3

  • Anonymous

    December 12, 2011 at 6:38 am

    I choose light, hang with friends and family and have fun. Don’t worry about the pressure or what people think, just go with what makes you and yours happy.

    1. Dena Botbyl

      December 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Fantastic advice, Lou!  Thank you so much for sharing.  Wishing you and yours the most wonderful holiday season.  <3

  • Jr Moreau

    December 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I’m committed to not letting myself hate Christmas this year. I have so many painful associations with it… mostly around growing up without money and feeling inadequate in the past when I wasn’t doing well financially. This year, it’s all about love. 

    1. Dena Botbyl

      December 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

      So excited to hear that you are focusing on love this year, JR.  It is the most wonderful thing that you can do for yourself and for the people around you.  I can’t wait to hear more about the projects that you’ve got going on at the moment.  Good luck with everything!

  • Allyssa Marie Milán

    December 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I totally agree! It makes me so sad that so many people in my family buy into this holiday commercialism and focus on the gift-giving. My mom is upset because she’s low on cash this year, but I try to tell her that the gifts don’t matter! Spending time with her family is the most beautiful, memorable thing she could do around this time of year…

    1. Dena Botbyl

      December 13, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Your mom is so lucky to have a daughter like you to be so wonderful, understand, and to help her remember what is really important.  Happy Holidays to you, lovely.  xx

  • James Moffitt

    December 13, 2011 at 8:38 am

    The loss of our Jessica back in 2001 to cancer has overshadowed our Christmas season for many years.  In the last couple of years we have been able to put some effort into overcoming the despair and feelings of loss but still have a Christmas celebration despite our loss. We know she is in a better place and that we will see her again one day.  Jessica is still part of our family and very much a part of who we are.  Christ is the reason for the season despite what the retailers say.  I loved your blog post. You are right.  We can chose to be overwhelmed by the commercialization and marketing frenzy or we can focus on what is important to us.  Those people all around us that we love and care for.  What better gift could we give at Christmas time than loving those around us in practical meaningful ways. 

    1. Dena Botbyl

      December 13, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Dearest James– Your family is such an inspiration to me always.  Your strength and determination to live in faith & happiness, despite the tragedy you have faced is nothing short than incredible.  You are a living example of the things I have written about in this post.  Thank you so very much.  <3

  • Andra Watkins

    December 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

    MTM and I flee to Canada and spend the holiday together. No other family. It is the secret to a happy marriage. 🙂

    1. Dena Botbyl

      December 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

      I love this idea, Andra!  That must be a fantastic secret because the two of you are so happy together.  You always inspire me!  xx

Leave a Comment

Prev Post

Sunday Sweetness: Collect Moments, Not Things

Next Post

Poison Preservatives & Vanishing Bees