The holidays are over. The decorations are coming down and, it seems, too often we end up packing away our holiday cheer along with the ornaments and wrapping paper. Families go from spending all day playing together to spending all day working alone in their emotional/mental cubicles. The last few Christmas cookies grow stale on the counter because, quite frankly, they just don’t taste the same after the fact. This is an interesting and conflicted time of the year. Society tells us we should set New Year’s resolutions for ourselves…yet no one expects us to keep them. We are told to keep the holiday spirit alive all year…yet we pack up all the reminders, are inundated with year-end sales, and then have to clean the house for the Super Bowl party. Each year at this time I find myself struggling with what the French would, I believe, call ennui… “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom” (http://www.dictionary.com).
It is ridiculous, I know. How can a person be “bored” when there is so much to do? I suppose it’s more discontentment than boredom. I love the freedom of the holiday season so much—the society-approved excuses for gathering with family and friends, for ignoring work, for doing what I want to do—that going back to the “real world” feels much like a death sentence. It’s gotten worse in the past few years. Due to various health issues, many of my “vacations” haven’t really felt relaxing and/or rejuvenating as of late. That is why, this year, my unofficial New Year’s resolution is to create my own holidays throughout the year. This way, instead of sucking it up and working my way through the year, waiting for the next holiday season, I can purposely create memories and find enjoyment with my family and friends all year long. It sounds pathetically obvious and easy…but in today’s world, work and various church/community commitments often take the front seat to family, friends, and even mental, physical, and emotional health.
Make a list of at least twelve restaurants or destinations or activities that you want to experience. Your list can include the simple pleasures like Pizza Hut and Del Taco, or it can be as extravagant and include Disneyland and a Broadway Show…but be realistic. There’s no point of disappointing yourself. The whole purpose is to find enjoyment in the things that you actually can do. It is possible to have holidays without breaking the bank. My list includes Zion National Park and Valley of Fire State Park. The only cost there is gas and a per-car entrance fee. (If we take a large vehicle, we all get in for one low price.) I also like Dairy Queen and Cold Stone, so they’re going on the list, too. It’s not a big, extravagant, showy occasion, but it is time away from my regular responsibilities, time with my family and/or friends (or both, because I’m lucky that way). If you are a planner and need to know the specifics and plan for things ahead of time, then make your list of twelve and place them on a calendar, one a month, so you have something to look forward to and plan. If you like spontaneity, put a few extra ideas on your list so that you have options. Cut the list up and put it in a jar so that you can draw one activity/destination out each month. You can draw it out ahead of time and plan for it later in the month (so you have something to look forward to and the anticipation can build), or you can draw out the destination/activity right before you head out the door…it’s YOUR holiday, you should decide how it will bring you the most enjoyment.
Whatever you do, make sure that you include your family and friends, because that is what holidays are really all about—spending time with the people you love, building memories, and getting out of your regular routine. That’s why we love the holidays. That’s why they are special. We have an excuse to enjoy time away from the normal and remember the simple pleasures.