December can be a lovely month full of delicious flavors, connection with people we care about, and those sweet, sweet vacation days. But the excitement and busy-ness of the holiday season can easily displace our center in the here and now, as we pack extra obligations into our already full schedules and accumulate more belongings.
This can easily make December heavy with "shoulds" and "wants".
It can become a month of clinging to social mores. We may take on more social commitments than we have time or proclivity for, offering up energy in ways that drain instead of nourish.
It can be a month of clinging to stuff. We put pressure on ourselves to give the perfect gift, despite our budget, hoping it will show how deeply we care. We acquire nice new things but can’t figure out where to put them in our home, creating clutter.
It can be a month of clinging to the past. If the usual holiday order of things changes we mourn that this year may never measure up to previous years.
It can be a time of damage to our relationships with our bodies. We hear people talking about feeling guilty for eating pie, and let shaming attitudes about our bodies resurface.
How would it feel if this December was different. What if it could be more focused on being present to joy and ease, and not gripping onto so many attachments? December might feel less like clinging and more like savoring.
To be clear, letting go of these long-ingrained attachments isn’t passive or necessarily easy; it may take a good bit of mental effort. But carving out emotional and physical space for yourself is deep self care that can transform the time you spend with others and your own enjoyment of the season.
To let go of clinging to social mores could be setting a maximum amount of time you’re willing to spend on social gatherings each week, and sticking to it.
To let go of clinging to stuff may be speaking with your loved ones about how it would feel to shift from exchanging material gifts to something that feels more nourishing, like spending more time together or donating to an organization they care about.
To let go of clinging to the past is mindfulness. It’s giving yourself permission to reflect on fond memories without attachment to repeating them.
To let go of shame is to honor your relationship to your body. It’s compassionately noticing your reactions to other people’s body policing with curiosity, instead of absorbing the stress and shame yourself.
Letting go of our attachments to the shoulds and wants this month may not be an easy change to take on, sure! But just think how it might transform your month, or even your year.
So here’s my question for you:
What obligations and attitudes would you release if you had no one to answer to but yourself?