From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Are You an Actor or Reactor?
I always enjoying surveying people's attitudes toward the holidays. For some, it
represents a stressful time; for others, it represents a joyous time. So I wonder... what
determines how people feel about the holidays? Are the holidays a time of looking back and
comparing this year with the past? Or are each new set of holidays allowed to stand on
their own and develop new meaning? One way or the other, planning how you wish to enjoy
the holiday may be time well spent. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.
- If you're "down" about the holidays, consider the reason why.
There are all kinds of reasons why people dread this time of year. If it has been rough in
the past, they may fear a repeat experience. Luckily, we humans have the capacity to learn
from the past and plan new ways of doing things. If the holidays represent loneliness,
seek out others who may also be lonely at this time of year and make plans with them. If
you're far away from family and can't be with them, adopt a new family for the season and
contribute to their holiday celebration. If you don't like going to someone else's house,
you can become the host for this year's celebration. Don't be afraid to take charge!
- If you're "up" about the holidays, consider the reason why.
Focus on your best experiences, and re-create them with a new flair. Nothing is ever the
same two years in a row; so you may want to concentrate on the best parts and keep your
mind on the activities that are most fun for you. Remember the things that have been
successful in the past, and build on these experiences. Allow yourself the opportunity to
decide how you really want to spend the holidays this year. By allowing yourself to follow
your heart, you give yourself a well-deserved present.
- If you feel "poor" during the holidays, re-evaluate the role of money
at this time of year. I'm reminded of a scene in the "Diary of Anne
Frank" where she chooses items from among her own possessions, wraps them up and
presents them as gifts to her family. There's no rule that says that cards can't be
homemade, gift wrap can't be made from the Sunday comic pages, or that gifts must be new
and store-bought. Some of my fondest childhood memories were of painting plates for family
members, making cookies for gifts, and making bathroom decorations out of soap bars and
artificial flowers. Remember that the most meaningful gifts come from the heart.
- Giving the right gift may be more important that giving lots of gifts. This
is especially true where parents feel compelled to give their children lots of gifts, many
of which end up in the closet. Rather than buying large quantities, why not ask your child
what he or she really wants. Ask them to make a list and prioritize their choices. Then
select something that they really want, something that you can truly afford, and allow
them to experience the pleasure of receiving a highly desired gift. Other items on the
list can be re-evaluated for birthdays or purchased by the child themself at some point.
This is another case of "quality versus quantity".
- Share your memories of the past and pass along family traditions.
Holidays are a great time for teaching family traditions, telling stories about the past,
and sharing your feelings about the holidays. This is the spiritual and historical
component of the your celebrations. Children and adults love hearing stories about their
family history, and children especially look forward to the holidays as a time when adults
are off from work, and can play with them. No matter how old your children are, remember
to spend "quality" time with them.
Although the holidays are traditionally a time to focus on being together with loved
ones, we often don't take full advantage of this opportunity. To add a special dimension
to this season, engage in meaningful conversations with children and adults, give gifts
from the heart, add something new and different to your holiday traditions, and plan to
enjoy the ride!
ęCopyright, 1994, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated October 25, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon,