I’ve been told my family gatherings should have their own reality show.
They’re wild and lively and laced with some element of drama or disaster, which, judging by the success of Honey Boo-Boo’s TV run, viewers would seem to enjoy.
But that’s what the holidays (or any family events) are — that time of year when we gladly or begrudgingly hodgepodge our family together for some good ‘ol fashion yuletide and bickering.
And while the robotic exchange of sweaters, lotion-sets, and iTunes gift cards offers fleeting moments of familial appreciation (and reprieve from the occasional eggnog-induced catastrophe), the best gift you can offer yourself and your family throughout the holidays aren’t presents, but your presence.
Presence as in your: mindful energy, aware thought, focused love.
And contrary to what previous holidays and events would have you believe, you have the power to dial down the chaos and make this season and this year the most calm and enjoyable to date. Because giving your presence feels a lot like coming home, but in a different way, a familiar way, a better way. A way that walks you through the door energetically, emotionally and spiritually.
So how the hell do you practice presence when Uncle Jim’s barking at your cousins to share their new toys, dammit! or Mom’s passive-aggressive remarks ring through the kitchen like bells on Santa’s sleigh?
Well, start here:
- Taste your meal. Grandma made her incredible cinnamon yams and your sister valiantly baked her little heart out for the first time. All of it made with love. So slow down at the dinner table, appreciate the abundance of food served (not everyone has that luxury this season), taste every beautiful and nourishing bite.
- Listen to your body. Are you really hungry for seconds and thirds? Or just mindlessly pouring a troughs-worth of gravy down your throat without consideration that you might be physically full?
- Then listen again. To the wrapping paper shred as your nephew tears open a box and the carols and conversation barely audible behind the howling laughter.
- Breathe in. Because the holidays seem to round up every amazing smell that’s ever existed: your real-wood fireplace, the Douglas Fir that stands proud and ornate at the center of your celebration and the pumpkin spice that’s infiltrated everything from your pie to your candle.
- Feel. The rapid exchange of warm hugs, the hot coffee as it burns through your mug, the fleece socks stuffed in your stocking for the THIRD-consecutive-year.
- Notice and acknowledge. The perfectly wrapped packaging and impeccably frosted cookies. That Mom and Pops look a little exhausted from prepping and cooking that fantastic meal you just devoured and could use your help scouring the pans, Cinderelli.
However you give presence, give it fully.
Because YOU are the source of the cheer you seek.
So instead of broiling with annoyance alongside the pork roast, give your presence and, in turn, a get a whole pile of peace, love and appreciation under your tree.
PSSSST: Any other tips to stay Present throughout the holidays or other family get-togethers? We’d really really REALLY like to know. Spill your lovely thoughts below.