Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Once again, I was hijacked by the holiday vortex. Were you?
What I call the “holiday vortex” occurs each year, beginning with the Thanksgiving weekend and extending into mid-January, with a host of holiday celebrations in between. During this period, TIME, MONEY and CALORIES do not seem to exist…at least, not in the normal sense! You might as well be on another planet, as this vortex sucks you into a totally different way of being—where parties, celebration, family gatherings, work events, gift-giving and receiving, retailer deep discounts, and new gadgets you must have all take precedent over other priorities that dominate the rest of the year. And this is on top of your normal work schedule, family commitments, household chores, exercise, financial planning, etc. It drives up adrenaline as one must strive to keep up with the heightened demands of the season to maintain a spirit of joy and merriment above all else. So, it is no wonder that time, money and calories have no place in this state of excitation and excess.
Let’s look at what happens with each of these three holiday vortex factors:
In the midst of the holiday vortex, time takes on a whole new meaning. There is so much more to do, and what appears to be less time to do it. This leads to a shift in priorities and letting some things go completely by the wayside. Using myself as an example, I notice that during the holiday season, I’m usually late for things. It takes longer to get to appointments due to higher traffic. And I have more things to do before even getting out the door…wrapping those office gifts, preparing the annual holiday card for mailing, taking food to the potluck lunch, or dressing the part with the right red sweater. With more on my plate, I tend to move meetings or postpone them until after the new year—all excusable because, after all, it’s the holidays!
There seems to be a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to holiday spending, tossing all caution to the wind. The holiday vortex requires lots of money to host and to attend parties, to buy gifts for family, friends, coworkers on your list (even for those you were not planning to buy for or almost forgot), to pay for an irresistible splashy holiday package on display at the liquor store or grocery store, to stock up on new clothes whether you need them or not, to buy a new car at those year-end prices, and to upgrade household items with new technology advancements. When budgets are depleted, then credit cards come to the rescue. There seems to be no limit—after all, there are so many great deals…and it’s the holidays!
Holiday celebrations by their very nature are designed for over-eating. Diets go out the window and exercise regimes are thrown off when caught up in the holiday vortex. Even if it’s not your favorite food, or maybe it is, the meals served at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, etc. while gathered around the big dining room table are typically multi-course extravaganzas not usually indulged in throughout the rest of the year. Then, there are the endless snacks around the TV while watching football games, enhanced by party platters and desserts brought over by friends, because no one shows up empty-handed on the holidays! Inevitably, leftovers fill up the fridge, including food and drink that was not consumed. It’s almost impossible not to gain weight…my nutritionist says that on average, people gain 5-6 lbs every holiday season and typically don’t lose the weight afterwards resulting in a gradual weight gain every year. This tends to be attributed to getting older and is viewed as inevitable, i.e. predictable.
Then comes the first and second week of January, which I like to call re-entry! After living like’s there no tomorrow with respect to time, money and calories—in what might have well been another solar system—you must come back to reality. There is an awakening to a huge to-do list, decorations to take down and store for next year, returns or exchanges to make, gifts to put away or assemble, and the need to clean out the closet for all the new stuff that entered your house. Assessments about weight gain, health goals and financial planning all must be faced in the aftermath of the holiday vortex with an eye toward the coming year.
You’ll be hit with thoughts like, “Wow, I really overspent,” “I really need to cut back now, and pay off debt from the holidays,” as you are confronted with budgetary concerns and shortfalls. But, you’re not alone, we all get swooped up into the holiday vortex with the rationale that it’s what everyone is doing. There’s an inertia that is hard to resist.
Intention and consciousness are required to not get sucked into the holiday vortex, year after year. Conscious living is about being awake to the dynamics of what is happening and bringing choice to your thinking, actions and commitments. It’s not about making anything wrong, it’s about being aware and powerfully choosing to focus and bring forth desired results. In this case, a commitment to be intentional on how your holiday goes next year and not be swept away by the drift of the holiday vortex.
I believe it’s possible to enjoy the holidays and celebrate with family, friends and colleagues without losing control of your commitments, goals and fulfillment. There is no need to judge yourself or overly restrict yourself, as holiday celebrations are a big part of our culture. Moving forward, however, there is an opportunity to bring more consciousness and state your commitments in preparation for future year-end festivities—starting as early as October 2020, following Halloween. This consciousness extends to all areas of life, including conscious living, conscious leadership and conscious capitalism.