The days are getting shorter as we approach the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. With fewer hours of daylight, most living things slow down and spend more time resting. Bears hibernate. Squirrels stop running around because they’ve stored enough acorns for winter. Trees drop their leaves and stand dormant until spring. Strangely, we humans do exactly the opposite. We add more to our “to do” list with holiday shopping, decorating, cards, parties…the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder we feel exhausted this time of year!

I’m not saying we shouldn’t do those things. I’m saying that it might not be in anyone’s best interest to do all of those things. What if we took a moment to check in to see if the activity will bring us joy? Will doing this give us energy or take it away? I have adopted my friend Kathy’s mantra: “Just because I can do it doesn’t mean I should do it.”

A few years ago, a colleague asked me to play Santa Claus at a holiday party. Given my work history in the Entertainment Department at Walt Disney World, she thought I was the perfect guy for the job. At that point in my life, I had no interest in wearing a hot, red velvet suit and a scratchy, fake beard while shouting “Ho Ho Ho!” I struggled with this decision because I didn’t want to disappoint her or the kids. As much as I wanted to be a team player, this particular gig did not feel joyful or like it was mine to do. If I said yes, it would definitely be out of obligation, not inspiration. Santa would be passing out some hidden resentments with those pretty wrapped packages.

After much deliberation, I mustered up the courage to tell my colleague I didn’t want to be Santa. She was disappointed but respected my decision. In the end, there were lots of other elements that didn’t come together so the event never happened. Sure, I could have avoided that uncomfortable conversation had I waited, but the peace and relief I felt after saying “Ho Ho NO” was immediate. A few minutes of discomfort was much better than all the moments of discomfort worrying about the event, and definitely better than a few hours of discomfort in that outfit had the event not been cancelled.

During that time, I was living at a friend’s house taking care of her cat while she and her husband were on a five-month road trip. The same colleague who asked me to play Santa had agreed to fill in for me the two weeks I was on vacation. A few weeks before my trip, she informed me that she had done enough litter box cleaning lately and did not want to do it for another two weeks. Like her, I was initially disappointed but respected her decision. I truly believe my honesty with her gave her permission to be honest and authentic with me.

Faced with having to find someone else rather quickly, I asked Spirit for help. That’s when the name of one of my classmates from massage school dropped into my mind. I knew this friend loved cats and was still grieving the recent loss of her beloved kitty. Not only was she thrilled to have kitty time, but she also enjoyed the opportunity to be outdoors working in the yard with the various plants and flowers around the house. Clearly, she was the perfect one for the job and no one had to do something that did not bring them joy!

This busy holiday season, I invite you to take a moment for self-reflection before sitting down to send those cards or buy those gifts on Amazon. If your decision to do these things comes from inspiration and it brings you joy, by all means, do them. If it feels like an obligation, at least notice this and give yourself permission to make a different choice now or perhaps next year. The results might just be the best gift you give yourself and those you love!

If you could use some assistance letting go of things that do not bring you joy, I would be honored to help you with a series of Life Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session. Both will give you new insights and a broader perspective to make lasting changes in your life. Please look around my website or send me an email for more information and to schedule a session. Gift Certificates are available for all of my services.

Until next time, may you give yourself the gift of joy this holiday season and always.

Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy. Let us join in celebrating peace by demanding no sacrifice of anyone, for so you offer me the love I offer you.

A Course in Miracles – T-15.XI.8:

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