Birthdays and Holidays can oftentimes come with a lot of baggage. Literally!
When you grow up with special occasions being a very big deal, it’s easy to feel like a celebration has to look a certain way in order for it to be meaningful. A birthday might not feel like a birthday without lots of people and cake and ice cream and balloons and presents. Thanksgiving may not feel like Thanksgiving without a ton of food, but not just any food; it has to be the traditional, favorite foods that you’ve been eating every year on that day for your whole life. Valentine’s Day may not feel like Valentine’s Day without… well you get the idea.
While special family traditions can be so fun, there are also some maybe-not-the-best traditions that get ingrained in our minds without us even realizing it. In my culture, I see a huge pressure to make everything larger than life. There’s always something that needs to be topped. Presents are typically a large focus. Money needs to be spent.
Our consumerist society tells us that it’s all pretty much about the stuff.
So when you’re working on changing your mindset, to focus more on people and experiences than on things, it might just feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle. The world is telling you that if you don’t buy expensive or numerous gifts, you must not really love the recipient. The world is telling you that if you don’t invite everyone, you’ll hurt lots of feelings. The world is telling you that if you don’t wear green, you’re gonna get pinched.
What if, what the world is telling you, is a lie?
Sometimes we just need to shut all those voices out of our heads and ask ourselves what would truly be the most exceptional way to spend a day. To be honest, it can be really hard to do something different than you’ve always done. It can make you feel like you’re not doing enough, like you don’t care enough… But is doing something simply because that’s “how it’s done” really enough? Maybe. Or maybe not. People and families are much more unique than that. You have to figure out what works best for you.
If you really want to celebrate someone on their birthday, do what makes them feel loved.
Some people would enjoy a large gathering with loud music and silly dancing. Some people would adore a lunch date with close friends and yummy food. Some people would just love some alone time to read a good book in peace and quiet. Every individual is different. What sounds delightful to you, may not be your friend’s cup of tea.
It may be true that it’s the thought that counts, but perhaps a little more thought from a different perspective could make dreams come true.
I love to give gifts! But what if going for a hike with my husband would be more meaningful to him than a present? Just because it doesn’t feel like enough to me, doesn’t mean it isn’t enough for him.
As with birthdays, holidays are very personal and should be a reflection of your family and what you are celebrating together too. Christmas for one might involve caroling around the neighborhood. For another it might include baking cookies together. It could look like presents under the tree, or a getaway to the beach. If it’s something big, that’s great! If it’s something small, that’s great too!
Whatever you do, make it you.