I want you take a moment and really think about how you feel about the holidays. Really. What is your current reality? The first step in creating a better holiday is to look at how you’ve felt about the holidays the last several years. You simply can’t change without being aware of what is and isn’t working. So let’s be honest here.

Think about the way you’ve felt before, during and after the holidays the last several years. Think about your spending, your activities and how it felt – and try to be as honest as possible. If you’re honest about your behavior and your feelings, you will open the door for transformation.

Don’t be alarmed if you dredge up some feelings that aren’t very pleasant. Thinking about recent holidays may not be easy. I used to feel, for example, absolutely frantic during the whole holiday season. I am, by nature, a very generous and open-hearted person, and I love the holidays. I love the chance to express my gratitude and to honor the people in my life with wonderful gifts. Sometimes, however, I would let my exuberance for giving get the best of me:

• I would run out and buy my kids expensive gifts that I couldn’t really afford, and then I would run out and buy them more, either because I saw another something I thought was perfect, or because I felt guilt that I hadn’t purchased enough already.

• Whenever I heard about a family that couldn’t afford to give their children the bounty that I had orchestrated for mine, I would joyously step in and anonymously do it for them, thrilled at the chance to serve. Oftentimes, however, this service would mean adding to my own mounting debt.

• If the school or my church needed help organizing a holiday show, or decorating, I would jump in and offer to help, regardless of my other commitments. I felt somehow responsible for everyone’s happiness.

How did my exuberant behavior color my holidays? I would get to January and feel depleted and tired, and when the bills came in, I’d be angry and remorseful at all the things I’d bought. It often took me many months to recover and pay off my debt – and that was no fun at all.

I share my own experience because I know I am not alone. So think about your own recent holiday experiences. Write down a few words that describe the way you’ve felt the last several years. Have you felt: Exhausted? Disappointed? Upset? Guilty? Ashamed?

If you’ve been lucky enough to come through the holidays feeling satisfied and fulfilled, that’s fantastic! I am genuinely happy for you. But if that is not the case, please know that part of healing and transforming how you “do” the holidays is to take a moment to name how you feel. When you speak the truth of this, real change is finally possible.

If you would like to keep exploring this rich and complex subject, please know that I’ve written a 25 page eBook to help you. And it is yours for free. Download your holiday planner here.

December 16th, 2010 by Karen McCall