The True Meaning of the Holidays…
The holiday season can be a polarising time. I love this time of the year, and all that it brings. Some of us embrace it but there are some that hate it. Whatever your feelings toward the holiday season, don’t let the myths around Christmas and New Year bring down your capacity for embracing it with joy. Whoever you are spending your time with, make it meaningful with a few ideas for inspiring holiday gratitude.
Common Myths about the Holiday Season
Rampant consumerism is something that I’ve seen discussed frequently in recent years over Christmas and the holiday season. Mostly the negative opinions that have surfaced associated wth buying gifts, tradition, and spending time with family. The holidays are seen by some as a time of unnecessary and excessive spending, stress, and pointless tradition. This time of year was very important when I was growing up, but now I feel that the foundations of the holiday season have changed. I am hesitant to take pride in the gifts I bought over Christmas, especially how much they cost, and what I have spent. It’s undoubtedly true that companies and brands would prefer us to spend a lot of money on their products and activities for gifts and spending over the holiday season. It’s also true that while many of us take a break from work spending time with family is on the to-do list, but some people feel that it’s overrated. So before we rebel against buying gifts for the sake of ethics, and make an appearance with family for the sake of obligation, I feel it’s important to look at the intent behind these traditions, what they mean and why they are in fact, important for us too.
The Importance of Tradition
Tradition is more than habit, or being part of a community. Tradition is important for us. Gift giving, and spending time with family are good for us because they remind us to be present, to draw our attention away from the daily grind and actively choose what is important. Nurturing the relationships we have with those around us is the opportunity that the holiday season brings. This is important because it give us an opportunity to create memories about what we are grateful for. Gratitude is not just a feeling but it’s a behaviour, and is created through taking action. Holiday plans are a reflection of our understanding of the ones around us. What we choose to do with others shows how well we know, love and appreciate them. Gift giving is not just about buying a thing because we are supposed to, it’s about taking the time to think about the person in mind, taking the effort to get to know them in the time leading up to the holidays and considering what’s truly important to them. The money and time we spend on others and our plans is a reflection of this knowledge, and a celebration of the year that is past. The amount of money spent does not matter. What I think is important is to make this time meaningful.
“Memories can be symbolised, solidified and remembered by the gifts we give. “
Gift giving and spending time with family go hand in hand as holiday traditions. That’s because in my mind spending time with the ones we love enable us to understand and learn about them, talk about what is new in our lives, and through sharing we create more memories together. These memories can be symbolised, solidified and remembered by the gifts we give. I don’t just believe that we should embrace the giving of gifts, I think it’s essential. The “languages of love” are a funny thing, if you’re not familiar with what these are do a little research as it’s well worth the read for self discovery. Gift giving is one of the common languages of love, and it happens to be one of mine. Gifts are important to me, I take great joy in shopping for others, with others, and for myself. Although modern media may have you believe that there is shame to be had in going on spending sprees for the ones you love, I dare you to put that perspective to one side and instead consider the experience of the person who will receive the gift, when they open it and the time they keep it.
Planning with Purpose
Embracing tradition means planning with purpose. Selecting gifts, making time and planning activities with family requires forethought and preparation. The holiday season is not so much about how everything turns out, as it is in the intent behind. My career requires that I am working most of the time and don’t get a holiday break, but for those that do it’s a beautiful time to make plans that reflect your love for those closest to you. Whether it’s your parents, children, siblings, friends or special relatives. I’ve put a little list together of holiday plans other than gifts you can incorporate into your agenda.
Eating out, or eating in! Food and the preparation of it, whether it’s enjoying the atmosphere of your favourite restaurant or cafe, or cooking a planned meal together is always a good time for a foodie. If you know someone who loves to eat, (and let’s face it, who doesn’t!) then the possibilities are endless in summer, don’t forget about picnics too! [If you love eating out, take a look at my list of Top 5 Auckland Cafes here!]
Action and Adventure. There can be so much fun living on the edge! Whether it’s camping, exploring, hiking, or fast paced activities to share with your favourite people planning a ‘doing’ activity can be a great way to show you enjoy the time of those around you.
Relaxation and Time Out. Spas, massages, or relaxing in the sun can be a fantastic and low-key way to make the most of your holidays if you know someone who also enjoys a little bit of pampering or would benefit from relaxation time. Book a bach, hire a car and go on a roadtrip, or spend the weekend at a luxury hotel!
Get Creative. For those that embrace the unique and artistic, getting a little creative during the holidays is a great way to spend time with loved ones. Bring your camera, paints, or art materials and take a trip your local beach, gardens or park. Take photographs or paint what you see there together, something I enjoy doing myself- it’s also very therapeutic and gives you lots to talk about and memories to share later!
Do nothing. Sometimes, ironically doing nothing with the ones we love can be the most fun of all. Take a trip to see your family and spend a day talking and catching up. Planning doesn’t always work for everyone and there are times when the best times are discovered along the way…
Happy Holidays everyone!
Photographer. Creator. Dreamer ♥