Choose Joy this Christmas


I see you. Smileless in the mall, jostling for parking spots, checking lists, checking bank accounts.

I see you. Wearing your Santa hat with your red flannel shirt, looking at socks, and smelling cologne as a last ditch stocking stuffer. Do they even wear cologne?

I see you. Stressing yourself silly about one day – one meal even – in the present of that one person in your life that makes everything difficult.

Is this what you want? Has anyone asked?

What if it didn’t have to be this way? What if you sat back, thought it through, and chose what you really wanted for Christmas? What if you chose joy? Or peace? Or love? Because you do have a choice, you know. We are always in choice.

The bustle of the holidays, just like the busyness of the first week of school, or the crazy time at work, or fiscal year end, does not have to be something we despise or shudder at, nor does it have to be something we complain about. It doesn’t have to be ridden with anxiety, or fear, or trepidation. It’s not supposed to be that way. We can choose how we want it to be. We are not beholden to the horror of the holidays.

Here’s how you can create a stress free holiday. Ask yourself:

“Am I creating the experience I want in this situation?”

If not, ask “What is the experience I want?”

Next, ask “How will I create that experience?”

Let me give you an example.

You’re gearing up to host Christmas dinner. Everyone is coming. Even that person. We all have that one person. You know, the one that throws a wet blanket on you every time they walk into a room. You can almost predict to the finest detail what they’re going to be like, how they’re going to behave, what they’re going to criticize. They’ve been like that forever.

Accept that you can’t change them. No matter how much you want to, it’s not your responsibility to even try to change them. So what do you have control over? You can choose your attitude. You can edit your responses. You can change your own experience of them.

What if you were to get very clear on what you wanted your experience to be like with them? What if you were to be prepared before they have the chance to trigger those feelings of inadequacy, rage, irrelevance, (insert emotion here)? You can. It just takes some intention.

Create an emergency action plan for when they DO show up as they are. See, here’s the thing – you already know how they are going to trigger you, what they’re going to say, how they’re going to say it. Make a plan for when it happens.

What if you chose not to fire back? What if you chose to respond with love and kindness, and to accept that maybe they’re just unhappy in general, and realize that they have no power over you? What if you chose to love them anyway, to not be hurt, to focus on healing, to stand for the good? Having an emergency action plan for your own actions and reactions – a choice that’s different from years gone past – may just diffuse the situation and open up different ways of being for all of you. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Choose joy. Or peace. Or love. Or hope. Some people have none of the above – that’s not on you. If you can’t change people, and you are going to be spending time with them, make a conscious effort to choose joy. It won’t be easy, and it may take some practice, but in the end, at the very least, you still have joy.

We are always in choice. We can choose to change our behaviour and expectations, or keep them the same (and get the same results). We can choose to enjoy the sport of going to Costco at Christmas, or dread the whole adventure. We can set intentions, and boundaries. We can choose to be a miserable cow, or a jolly elf. We can choose to make the holidays happy.

I hope you’ll choose joy.