November 18, 2019

Bringing Healing to the Holidays


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Photo: Kat Wolle for Noble Pursuit

Amidst the bright lights, festive gatherings and beautifully wrapped gifts, the holiday season can bring up past pain in our own lives and remind us of those who are hurting in our families, communities and around the world.  Yet, this time of year can be the perfect opportunity to apply a healing balm to our own struggles and those of the ones around us. Here are a few thoughts on bringing healing to your holiday. 

  1. Give first:  While it is hard not to focus on extensive shopping lists, taking stock of the people doing good work and causes that are important to you and budgeting those in first and shopping for gifts afterwards ensures the end of the year doesn’t find you low on funds for those who truly need it most.  Most charities and NGOs rely heavily on year-end dollars to fund their work into the new year, so receiving donations around the holidays is especially important to them, too. 

Try: Look to give on or around #GivingTuesday when many organizations have found donors to match your gifts dollar for dollar, doubling your impact.

  1. Cultivate new traditions: Traditions are some of the most powerful experiences we have as humans, giving us a sense of identity that grounds us in who and whose we are.   If the holidays—and maybe the old traditions that go with them—prove to be a struggle year in and year out, creating new traditions are a redeeming way to help us to heal and move beyond old traditions that may elicit unhappy memories.  

Try: Hosting a Secret Santa party where every gift given must give back in some way or inviting new neighbors over for hors d’oeuvres and a tree trimming party. (h/t: Brittany Foote)

  1. Draw healthy boundaries: Whether its an intrusive relative, an unwelcome comment, or simply a packed calendar that is detracting from the meaning of the season, recognizing that we cannot pour out to others without first being filled ourselves and putting up appropriate boundaries can help make for a more peaceful time for everyone. 

Try: Working Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend’s book “Boundaries” onto your nightstand stack.  It is full of great tips for cultivating healthy boundaries.

  1. Create before consuming: The holidays can give rise to increased materialism in our already highly consumerist society.  But the best way to combat overconsumption is with creation. This may look like penning a thoughtful note, making gifts instead of purchasing them, curating a photo album, or cooking up a special meal just because. And while the November through January hustle and bustle may not seem like the ideal time to jump into a creative project, doing so will produce a posture of giving of ourselves that will radiate throughout the seemingly countless family gatherings, work parties, and school events. 

Try: Combing through photos from the past year and curating an album for the grandparents on a site like Artifact Uprising or MILK Books or writing year-end letters to your kids and spouse in a journal to give them on a future special occasion.

  1. Be other-centered: Curating the picture (read: Instagram) perfect holiday experience is tempting, to be sure, but oftentimes leads to disappointment and beating up on ourselves for not having it “together” enough. We can infuse true meaning into the season by being consistently other-centered, whether inviting a lonely neighbor or friend to our tables or saying no to yet another holiday party in favor of time with our kids or loved ones.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Being other-centered helps us avoid feelings of discouragement with ourselves through the gift of looking outwards towards the needs of those around us. 

Try: Taking stock of three people you cross paths with on a weekly basis and brainstorming a need of theirs you might be able to meet or making kits with basic needs like hand warmers, energy bars, water and toiletries to hand out to homeless neighbors as the weather turns. 


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