Welcome to the holidays! The frenzy of celebrations and anticipation can drive us to overlook the accompanying stress of traveling, logistics, cooking, family obligations, shopping…and affording it all!  We may end up not taking time to rest and enjoy with our families.  

Traditions and the mass media lead us to repeat habits without questioning how much they serve us. We unconsciously focus on what we MUST HAVE for the holidays, what we have achieved throughout the year, and how we compare to other families, or to ourselves at a different time. 

Is this a trap that we cannot escape from?  It is a trap, but the good news is we can break free from it! Families from different cultures around the world approach the holidays in very different ways. We have the choice, and the opportunity this holiday season, to approach it with the conscious intention to enjoy it. 

Meditation instructor and author Tara Brach instructs us in one of her podcasts (link) to “rewire our brains for happiness and freedom.” Two essential daily practices are: savoring and gratitude for what is already here (rather than what is missing). 

This holiday, I encourage you to practice gratitude with your children. They give us endless small gems to appreciate, with their constant growth, new skills, creativity and silliness. 

The challenge is to pause, and guide our attention to notice those gems in our daily hassle…it takes a mindful parent (blog link). It is the best gift you can give to them and to yourself! 

“Gracias,” the Spanish word for “Thanks,” is a great reminder for all of us. Its Latin root, “gratia” also means grace and pleasure.   

May Gracias be with your family this holiday season and the new year!!!