I write a lot about mental illness. It's the holidays and I thought it might be nice to change it up a little bit and celebrate all the wonderful things that come around this time of year! So here are some of my favorite holiday traditions. See if they are some of yours, and consider what I missed. Pick one of your favorite traditions, or start a new one, and just focus on that this year. Don't try to do it all. Holidays don't have to be perfect to be wonderful. Go for *Perfectly Imperfect*!
1. Christmas music. There's only one time of year that I like listening to Christmas music, and it's now. I have 2 CDs of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music and I love putting it on in the background as I fiddle around with house chores. What's your favorite Christmas music?
2. Holiday lights. Driving around or even looking out the window at lights that people lovingly put up to celebrate the holidays always give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
3. Lighting a fire in the fireplace. OK, so I don't have a fireplace, but I still like putting on the video of the holiday log burning. A little cheesy? Certainly. But I still like being reminded of sitting around a fire.
4. Decorating a gingerbread house. I used to do this as a kid, so sometimes. Last year I bought one of those pre-made gingerbread houses (might as well make it easy) and got my sons to join me in making a big mess with frosting and candy. No perfectionism needed - the messier it is the better!
5. Finding a special gift. I don't like the commercialism of Christmas, but I do love putting a lot of thought into finding that one special gift for the people I love. It doesn't have to be big or lavish, just suited to the person so it tells them "I'm thinking about you". Last year I made ornaments for friends and family members. I made a mess with glitter and paint and had a fabulous time. People really loved them too.
6. Watching old holiday movies. I'm a sap. I love the old Rudolph series of movies. It gives me permission to let my inner child come out and play. (That and the gingerbread houses.)
7. Decorating. I have a bin of Christmas decorations. Yes, it's a pain to get it out of storage, but I like the change in scenery. I'm far from being Martha Stewart but I do like to get a little festive. My favorite part is the candles.
8. Having Christmas Eve by candlelight. The holidays are all about family, in my opinion. We live in an electronic world filled with smart phones, twitter, email, and so on. Turning off the electronics and lighting a few candles really sets the mood for reconnecting and actually talking to one another. Email can wait.
9. Spiced cider. I love the smell of spiced cider. Of curse you can do this anytime, but there's something just right about doing it at the holidays. A hot drink on a cold day stimulates most of the senses - touch, smell, taste, and sight. Drink it slowly and savor it.
10. And most important to me is spending time with family. In an ideal world we would have a daily family meal and discuss the day. It's tough to make it happen though. We work long hours and are exhausted at the end of the day. The most important thing to me is connection with people. Take time this holiday season to reach out and connect.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!