Going Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
                                                                       — Hamilton Wright Mabie

Unless August 16 is your birthday, chances are you don’t remember what you were doing August 16, 2004.   Sure, you might recall where you were living, and the people who were in your life.  But specific conversations?  What you ate?  Where you went that day?  Probably not.

That’s why the holidays are such an important touchstone for families and friends.  We do remember specifics of a particular Christmas, or Hanukkah, or other special traditional observance.  The holidays are a time designated to come together as a family, and make new memories we’ll reminisce about during holidays to come.

In the relatively new science of Positive Psychology, one of the three necessities for being happy in your life is having a “community” – a close knit group of one or many family members and/or friends who know you, and have your back.  Your community represents your safe space to retreat after a disappointment, or to celebrate a victory. 

There’s a particular richness to this community during the holidays, and you can make this the year you add even more to the connections.  Here are some ideas for reinforcing the unity, caring and love for each family member.

  1. First and foremost, release all expectations.  There is no such thing as the “perfect” holiday.  But choosing to focus on the things that are positive, fun and interesting will keep you, and everyone around you, in the jolliest of moods.
     
  2. Start a new tradition of going around the table and sharing your happiest holiday memory.  Chances are, the memory will include at least one or two others gathered there, reinforcing the “family unity” theme.
     
  3. If someone introduces a topic that could erupt in an unpleasant exchange, gently – or not so gently – steer the conversation in another direction.  You can even make a joke of it – “How about those Mets?”
     
  4. Bring music to the mix. John Denver once said, “Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”   A sing-along or informal concert, or even a holiday music mix on an iPod, can draw everyone into the fun.
     
  5. Express gratitude for coming together again in the circle of your family.  Even if old tensions start to run high, you can be authentically grateful that you now have the opportunity to create happier new memories. 
     
  6. Spend this holiday season, at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. Experience the warmth of fellowship and spiritual community in a safe and sacred environment.
     
  7. Donate your time or treasure as a group. Bring family and friends together and volunteer your time as a group. Or pool your money together in order to give a larger donation to your favorite cause.

May your holiday gatherings nurture and enrich you in body, mind and spirit.

This holiday season, experience the fellowship and spiritual community at the OHI missions in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health, and get your New Year off to a healthy start. Visit us online at www.optimumhealth.org , or call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.