I have to admit it was a real struggle getting in the holiday spirit this year. Thanksgiving came and went in our home and no tree went up like it does each year the Saturday after. I could feel a mellow vibe of, “Does it really matter if we decorate?” fall over my husband and I, neither one of us bothering to ask the other what they wanted to do for the holiday season. No Christmas music was blaring from our car speakers as we went to visit family and friends over that weekend, my husband declaring that he is already a little sick of it since his choir students have been singing it since early October. I could just feel that the holidays might not happen for us this year.
See we’ve been here before. Two years ago we decided against dragging everything out of storage, moving furniture around, and putting up the tree. We had moved just a couple of months before and were just beginning to settle into our new place and the thought of it all was exhausting. So, no tree, no lights, just a wreath on the front door and tiny decorative tree on the mantle and that was about it. Looking back on it, I must say that that year was kind of depressing. The holidays came and went, we celebrated with family and friends, but never really got into a festive mood. We just went through the motions and came out the other side.
So, when I could see that we were kind of in that mood once again this year I told my husband that we still had to do it. We were putting the tree up. We would have a fire, open a bottle of wine, and get in the holiday spirit if it killed us. He laughed at me (a common occurrence in this household), agreed and we set the date for the following Saturday.
The week leading up to decorating day had me slowly pulling out some holiday necessities. We needed to get in the mood, so I thought I would pretend that I actually was. Fake it ‘til you make it and all that. When the neighbors started getting out their wreaths and door décor, I went into storage and grabbed our holiday swag, easily hanging it on the hook and moving on with life. I put the little tree that goes on the mantle in its rightful place. And out at the grocery store one afternoon I fell in love with a pink poinsettia, had to take it home, and placed it in the front entranceway to greet us as we came up the stairs and into our family room.
A couple of days into this slow sprinkling of holiday décor throughout our home my husband sighed and said, “Weren’t we going to do this over the weekend?”
“I’m just doing a few things to get us in the mood,” I replied. “It’s working for me, I’m looking forward to putting the tree up on Saturday!”
He smiled and shrugged, but I could tell it was working on him too as he downloaded a couple of new holiday albums off of iTunes that night, coming home after work the next day humming Christmas tunes as he put his stuff away in the den.
Saturday came, the tree went up, and the holidays officially began for us. I’ve had fun picking out gifts for my friends and family, and am looking forward to holiday parties, shows, concerts, and events that only happen once a year. So, I’m glad I kind of forced us to be merry.
But sometimes life is like that. I confess there are often times I don’t feel like doing certain things and at times that certain thing is taking a yoga class. That doesn’t go away because you are a teacher. Most times I take the class anyway. I know I don’t feel like doing it because yoga is not easy. Yoga makes you face yourself and where you are that day, moving through any emotions, anxieties, or physical injuries, observing it all with each inhale and exhale. And more than likely the days you don’t feel like taking class is the day you need it most.
The holidays are like this too. It’s a time to take stock in the last year, look back on how you’ve evolved, enjoy the present moment with family and friends, and gaze at the future with hope and wishes for what’s to come. I guess that’s why there can be resistance to getting in the spirit. You have to stop for a moment, look around, and breathe.
I recently read something by Pam Grout that made me stop in my tracks and look at practicing gratitude in a new way. She says that if you simply change the words, “I have to…” into, “I get to…” you can change your life. I can’t agree more. Having just returned from an afternoon walk with my dog in the freezing rain and wind I was exhilarated by the experience instead of drained when I thought, “Wow, I get to walk my dog at 3pm in the afternoon on this very wet, but very beautiful day.” Believe me there have been plenty of times where I would think, “Ugh, I have to walk the dog in the rain.”
So, when you are starting to feel negative towards any experience or obligated to do something you would rather not, change it up. You get to decorate a tree today for the holidays. You get to go to a holiday party. You get to visit with the relatives you haven’t seen all year. You even get to go to yoga class. You get to do that incredibly difficult posture and give it a try. You get to live this fantastic life tailored just for you. Make it awesome. Make it fun. Make it yours.
Here’s to a happy holiday season yogis!