Enter your keyword

The Core of Holiday Cheer

The Core of Holiday Cheer

I view the holidays the same way I view Pilates: strengthening my mind, body, soul and spirit from the inside out.

Pilates fortifies my body starting with all the muscles that wrap around my core and pelvis, which elongate and stabilize my skeletal system—much like the roots of a tree. From there I notice the increase of strength in my major muscle groups. Comparatively, strengthening exercises that primarily focus on the outer major muscle groups mask the importance of getting stronger, healthier and more limber from my core—imagine how easily a giant redwood would topple without strong roots. (Please note: I do believe most all exercise is fantastic for you, so absolutely “to each his/her own.” Whatever makes your soul sing, you should continue to do.)

I have this same philosophical approach to the Holidays. When I think of “the Holidays” I am instantly reminded of the purpose of the season through time off work, times of celebration, family gatherings… of the fact that we are celebrating Holy-days.

Regardless of your faith, religion or culture, the Holidays offer a universal time of reflection, gratitude and renewal of humility and spirit. I long ago stopped associating the Holidays with gifts and parties and consequently my stress level went way down and my enjoyment of the season went way up. To me, the commercialization of the holidays felt like my branches were getting loaded with things I didn’t need, which put strain on my core and threw me off balance.

In fact, a few years ago my husband and I decided to stop buying and giving gifts to each other, our family and friends. We also told everyone to please not get us anything and to not expect anything from us. Instead, we donate all of the allocated gift money to charities.

I can’t begin to express how liberating and stress free our holidays have been since then. It was one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done. Imagine not having to stress over what to get someone that they’d use more than once, or not having to anticipate being fake-excited over receiving something you don’t want or need.

The exceptions to the no-gift policy are our grandchildren because we do enjoy giving and watching them open their gifts. However, we have done a great job (yes, I’m patting myself on the back) in streamlining the amounts of gifts so that they are able to enjoy the true meaning of the season without it being hijacked by the excitement of getting “stuff.” And, since they don’t see the adults focusing on the importance of gifts, hopefully they are gaining a more authentic understanding of the holidays.

I believe we can all agree the holidays have gotten way too commercial. The choice for my husband and I to go cold turkey (no pun intended) on all the “stuff” has taken almost all of the stress out of the season and allowed us to better enjoy the holidays for what they are meant to be.

What is your non-traditional stress relieving practice that you’ve found make your holidays more enjoyable? Please share! Here’s to sharing, caring and faring well this holiday season. (Don’t worry, I’m not inserting another rap). 😉

Related Posts

26 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Elizabeth Rosendorf
Elizabeth Rosendorf
5 years ago

My wife’s family has a tradition of picking names out of a hat a year in advance. You buy just one present, with a pre-selected price limit, for the person you’ve chosen. I think that’s such a sweet way to do it. I’m technically Jewish so before I married I got to do whatever I wanted for Christmas, which I loved. It was a great time to take a short trip and/or hang out with friends, and I felt lucky that there were no specific expectations and I could just have enjoy the down time :). In the bigger cities… Read more »

Lena Pierson
5 years ago

I couldn’t agree with you more, Valeria. Doing away with gifts does relieve the pressure. It can feel forced to shop for a gift JUST because it’s Christmas. My husband and I haven’t gifted each other a thing since we met but we have given each other many gifts which you can never put a value on. That being said I often have a desire to do a little something for people who matter to me. Making a gift is a great way to do that. One year I made jewelry. It cost almost nothing but as I made the… Read more »

Amy Erickson
Amy Erickson
5 years ago

First of all, I love this post! It’s a great reminder to all of us to stop, step back, and evaluate. I’ve often struggled with the idea of consumerism and gift giving in relation to the holidays. Of course, the real meaning of Christmas in my life is the birth of Jesus, my Savior, and I first and foremost want to celebrate that. My uncle taught me that “Christmas songs” can also be worship songs; we have a Christmas Eve service with my uncle’s house church in his living room at 11pm and then we go outside and take communion… Read more »

Kelli
Kelli
5 years ago
Reply to  Amy Erickson

One thing I love doing is packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Have you heard of it or tried it?

Faith Greiner FIeld
5 years ago

Thank you for reminding us that these holidays are “Holy Days”. It is so easy to get into the hustle and bustle of the holidays and never slow down to reflect on what this particular season of our life is about. Several of my girlfriends and I get together to discuss and to solidify our goals for the next year. We also choose a word or phrase that we want our lives to be marked by. The temptation is always to ” just get through the holidays”so that we can start living intentionally as soon as January 1 hits. It… Read more »

Ellette Craddock
Ellette Craddock
5 years ago

While reading this, one thing that really resonated with me was, “Regardless of your faith, religion or culture, the Holidays offer a universal time of reflection, gratitude and renewal of humility and spirit.” For me personally, not having a strong religious background (. . . which I’m sure we all know by now. . . ), the holidays have become a season where I become VERY in tune with my feelings. I reflect on my year, what I have accomplished, and most importantly, I really take a moment to be grateful of where I am at that moment and the… Read more »

Kelli
Kelli
5 years ago

We stopped doing gifts years ago in my immediate family (mom, dad, brother & me). It was just getting ridiculous. Todd & I are adults, if we want or need something we buy it for ourselves. Our parents have everything they need and want so it stressful to try to come up with gifts for each other or gifts that we wanted so we finally decided to quit. My dad had halfway quit years before that. He’d put a $100 bill & some lottery tickets in a plain envelope & say “Merry Christmas” We decided to pool our money to… Read more »

A Renee
A Renee
5 years ago

What a refreshing way to celebrate the holidays. The past several years I’ve found myself very much removed from any longing to celebrate the holidays. If and when I am in the presence of family, I try to do whatever I can to ease their burdens during the holiday. I cook, clean, shop, babysit… and of course enjoy seeing the smiles when people open their presents. My parents come from two different religious backgrounds so I was raised celebrating all of the secular holidays and a few religious ones as well. My brother and I, in defiance of our upbringing,… Read more »

Kelli
Kelli
5 years ago
Reply to  A Renee

A. Renee, I think you are such a neat person. I’d love it if we could connect sometime. Maybe at PAC-12 this year. Or maybe when I’m up in SF. I’m there once a month to see my doctor.

Theo Karlous
Theo Karlous
5 years ago

I grew up Roman Catholic and baptized/married into the Coptic Orthodox Church at 23. In raising our kids, presents during Catholic Christmas has taken a backseat to slowing down and reflecting on Christ’s Birth during Orthodox Christmas. This has helped our family spend more quality time which is so critical with older teenagers. Also, no more Christmas letters…one of the greatest freedoms :)!

Cory Tomlinson
5 years ago

I have always loved your tradition of giving to charity during the holiday season. It is a very thoughtful and gracious process that you and Bobby go through in selecting the charity that is on your heart that year. Keep it up! As for me, the holidays is all about togetherness. Coming together as family and friends – intentional, set-apart time to relax and celebrate the reason for the season. I love sitting in front of the Christmas tree with a cup of coffee just relaxing with family. I love going to Disneyland with friends to see all of the… Read more »

Emmanuelle Martin
Emmanuelle Martin
5 years ago

I also don’t want any gifts and don’t stress over buying gifts. To be honest the biggest gift is holding my 8 week old nephew. I don’t need anything else. The holidays rejuvenate me!