As the eldest daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, mother, and now grandmother, I have a LONG history of being a holiday elf. From my earliest childhood, I absorbed multigenerational traditions into my psyche and learned ‘how things are done’ training as a good elf. I was taught that the meaning of Christmas was in creating a happy holidays for others. I explored many cultural traditions and added many over the years.
But as time went by, I found myself needing to liberate my Inner Elf. How to let go of activities that no longer serve my growth as a spiritual being, while retaining meaning of the seasons? How to make peace with my own personal limitations in the face of passing of generations? How to find joy, while meeting expectations? I finally realized that hard choices had to be made. What to keep and what to lovingly honor and release in my trove of holiday activities?
The process of examining my beliefs uncovered some old outmoded constructs that belonged to previous generation… So I set about sorting what fit into my present life. Letting go of perfectionism, control and presentation was not easy, but necessary to making room for loving and accepting the part of myself that seeks approval through giving to others.
So, while I must fully disclose the ephemeral nature of such notions, I thought I might share some of what I have learned about my elf. What works for my elf might not work for someone else, or in different situations. With that said, here is a list of ideas that my elf found useful. Some come from conversations with my dear sister, Jeanie and various friends. Others originate from my elf’s inner work, spiritual studies and even dreams! So here goes…
- First and foremost… my elf is enough. I love and accept the parts of my elf that are learning from these experiences!
- The true meaning of holiday is in the heart, not in the calendar.
- Just because my elf knows how to do something doesn’t mean that it MUST be done.
- Find ways to decompress ~ Time and energy are finite on this earth.
- ‘No’ is a complete sentence.
- Setting priorities brings clarity.
- Just because my elf has cool holiday decor doesn’t mean she must use every piece every year. Simplify when needed: it’s ok!
- Massive – going all out is not the same as meaningful.
- Gear toward people not presentation. Example: This year my elf is arranging unbreakable tree ornaments within reach of grandchildren so they can enjoy.
- Find joy in small moments, satisfaction in completed tasks
- The MIDDLE WAY is a thin line but worth it!
- Try not to get trapped in trappings
- Go with the flow – it’s a dynamic
- Expectations are relative
- Quality over quantity
- Joy is in the doing – NOT in doing it all.
- Smiles over schedules
- Less is more
- Homemade and China are for special occasions… not always for Holiday crowds.
- Paper plates are ok!
- Meal kits are the elf’s friend
- Authentic happiness over social scene
- Everyone feels better when they contribute to collective festivities. Say yes to the help!
So, happy holidays from my elf to yours… and may your holidays be bright!