From the outside in, there is a lot of diversity in the different holidays around the world. There are, in fact, well over 20 holiday festivities going on around the world during this time. For most of us, the big traditional holiday of our childhood is the one we will continue to celebrate. That could be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or some other winter festivity. Whatever you celebrate, you most likely have some traditions that are quite specific to your family and friends – some that are longstanding and some that have evolved as you and your situations have changed.
Although we might celebrate different holidays for various reasons, our underlying meaning is more similar than different. We gather to raise up and honor our shared history. Our community and family histories are honored through formal religious rituals as well as the informal loud gatherings in houses and restaurants. From the sacred to the raucous, from the peaceful to the playful, these holidays are meant to be times to bring us together in one way or another.
From the inside looking out, we most likely all experience similar feelings and emotions during the holidays: joy when we celebrate with family and friends, stress, exhaustion (so much to do!) and maybe sadness and grief. Spending time with family is not always easy. Nowadays, there are more and more diverse family structures, which can cause additional stress to all involved.
As individuals, our behavior has a direct impact on how others feel. It is important to acknowledge our differences (on a broad and smaller scale), but not allow those to define us negatively. So, how do we take care of our needs and preferences (I’m more of an introvert and don’t want to go to holiday parties until 1am. My brother is an extrovert and likes to party and play cards till 1am. What is a good middle?), and also take care of each other’s’ needs? Practice accepting what is different, giving the benefit of the doubt, and coming from a place of curiosity. Sometimes, especially within our family, we do or say hurtful things to each other. Usually, this is not personal. By simply giving the benefit of the doubt, and asking (curiously) about said comment/ behavior, opening a dialogue can avoid conflict and allow for shared communication.
In the midst of the holiday preparations and being busy little bees (or beavers we don’t discriminate), don’t forget to tune in and take care of each other.