I’m not sure when I fell out of love with the holidays, but if I had to pin it down, I’d say it was the year of the collage magnets. I was in my mid-twenties, living with friends in Seattle, and in spite of the fact I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, I became enamored of the idea that I would craft presents for all my friends and family that year. At that time, I worked at Archie McPhee, a toy store run amok that also sold odds and ends from various suppliers, so we had a lot of wide magnetic strips. Since we also had lots of colorful, glittery things, I thought I would glue all these together into some sort of spectacular collage magnet, with content tailored to the interests of each individual recipient.
I’m not sure if I finished even one. I do know that, by the time my house hosted our holiday party, the week before Christmas, I had given up on the project completely, and felt so deflated I could barely make an appearance. I spent most of the evening in my room, and I’m pretty sure I spent some of it in the closet, although in retrospect that was less out of necessity and more out of drama. I was just looking to be found. And to have my message heard: I was done with Christmas.
The first thing to go was presents. For anyone. Then, I dropped the Christmas card list. Christmas lights, which I used to love so much I used them year round, went next. And on and on, until Christmas day was just a day where I didn’t work and I got to eat whatever I want and relax.
That seemed to work for a while, until I realized I wasn’t actually relaxed. Even though I was opting out of the activities that I thought were the problem, I still wasn’t enjoying myself very much.
I completely excused myself from the whole rigamarole for years. Doing so only left a vacuum and didn’t leave me satisfied, It was time to make a decision – what were the things I wanted to put back in? And, more importantly, what new things did I want to incorporate that would feed my soul instead of making my heart ache?
I like Christmas lights. I like biking home from teaching at night in the dark and watching more of them go up every night, illuminating my ride. They are up on our house again, the old-school painted bulb kind, glowing around my door when I get home. I like gingerbread lattes. I like day-after-Christmas dinners at Indian restaurants with friends, giving those who do spend the holidays with family an opportunity to do some hilarious re-gifting.
One thing I really like is yoga. And so, “Yoga for Holiday Stress” was born. (We teach what we need to learn the most.)
In this workshop, we realize we are not alone in our holiday ambivalence. We stretch, we breathe, we reflect and support one another as we each decide what to let go of, and what to usher in instead. Last year, we wrote ourselves holiday cards to remind us what really matters, and I sent them off to each student right when things would be the craziest.
I heard recently from a student who attended last year that she found that card in her holiday decorations as she was getting them out this year. Reading it reminded her, right at the outset, what was important to her, and was already altering how she approached the season. Messages like that are the best Christmas gift I could ever hope for.
There are only a few spots left, but if you sense that one of them is for you, go here: itsallyoga.com
May you have peace.