This weekend is Halloween. And the next day begins the official time where it’s legitimate to start the barrage of holiday ad campaigns. That’s not to say that others haven’t already intruded into the not really legitimate time to begin because they have.
Come Saturday night doorbells will be rung by ghosts and goblins scarfing up as much candy as they can carry. They will take home whatever doesn’t get eaten along their route. Tired, and wired they will drift to sleep and awaken to parents who realize that it’s November and game day is in sight. Short sight of only 7 ½ weeks and a mere five weeks for my Jewish friends. Thanksgiving is just a means to an end; a kind of speedbump on the route to holiday shopping. And with more stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, it’s not a very big speed bump anymore.
Maybe you are one of the wise men who have already done your shopping. I doubt this makes you immune to the hustle and bustle which lies ahead. There are outfits to buy, decorating to compete, parties to attend and a whole host of other unplanned for activities including family dynamics to wrestle with. ‘Tis the season.
I’d like to propose an idea for you (and me) to think about this year. I’ve noticed in the past that when I try to plan better I don’t get particularly great results. For example, if I buy my kids gifts early, I usually end up buying a lot more because as the time grows close, their list gets longer. I feel compelled to get the thing they now know they “really want” in addition to the things I thought they wanted back in August. If I plan out my schedule, it often doesn’t include all of the spontaneous things that pop up. But there is also an element in my traditional approach to planning the holidays that contains the inherent quality of building expectations that will ultimately yield disappointment when they, are inevitably, unfulfilled. I might picture in my head the perfectly decorated house because I’ve planned it. Only to find that the light bulbs for the tree need replacing once it’s all done and putting new ones on after the fact doesn’t give me the look I had imagined. Or the gravy turns out lumpy.
So my proposal is simply this. Use this week before the insanity sits in to take a few moments and think about what you want the holidays to mean to you and how you want them to feel. Write out a different kind of holiday list this year. Here is an excerpt from mine.
I want to watch a great movie or two with my family over our time off.
I want to spend at least one lazy morning sleeping in and hanging out with my (3) boys in our pajamas.
I want to look at some old photographs from holidays past with them and share stories about their childhood and reflect on how much they have grown.
I want to try and focus more on remembering to be aware of the millions of things I already have to be grateful for, instead of looking towards what I don’t yet have in my life. I especially want to try and practice this when I want to purchase things.
I want to celebrate that this is the time of year when I met my husband and started down this path of the life I so love.
My list doesn’t include shoes, or jewelry, or even a new toaster.
My list is still in progress. What I want may be very different than the things you want and I encourage you to make your list a true reflection of your wishes.
So before your dreams of ghosts and goblins turn into sugarplums and fairies, take a little time out while time is still available. Unplug from the cultural madness that is ready to pounce upon you and armor up with thoughts of a life designed by you rather than a marketing agency.
I’d love to hear some excerpts from your lists.