What well-being wisdom for the Holiday Season can we find from A Charlie Brown Christmas? Turns out, quite a bit! In the opening scene of the holiday classic, Charlie Brown laments his disappointment about not getting any cards and being blue during the holidays. Unfortunately, this is a familiar theme in the real world. So often, we get wrapped up in trying to meet what we think is the expected result of the holidays, and when we fall short, we are disappointed. Instead of focusing on some abstract “ideal” holiday, instead, think about a couple of small, affordable, and fun goals that will make you happy. Some people love the rush of being among the holiday crowds – the hustle and bustle. Others prefer a quiet evening at home with warm blanket and good book.
Lucy, not typically known for being helpful, actually gives Charlie Brown some good advice (for only 5 cents!). She tells him to get involved in an activity. Just getting involved with doing something is often enough to help us snap out of the “holiday blues.” Charlie takes on a key role in the gang’s Christmas play, and really dives into the activity. Instead of focusing on the giving and getting of material things – the latest gadget, the shiny jewelry, the coolest toy – focus on an activity. What would you like to do that would be fun? What would tap into your creativity? What would create a great memory for you and your family and friends? Who might you invite to join you?
Lucy and Snoopy next highlight one of the biggest challenges of the holiday season – financial stress. Lucy says that she never gets the present she really wants – real estate! Snoopy goes all out to decorate his doghouse in order to win a cash prize. Again, along with the concept of creating the “perfect holiday,” we sometimes let emotions override our good judgment, and we end up spending too much. The euphoria of December wears off, and January presents us with a credit card bill that we spend months regretting. Each of us can take steps to temper this urge to overspend by planning a budget for the holidays. What can you really afford? Have you talked with your family and friends about their thoughts and expectations? Are these items needs or wants? Some ideas that can with the financial strain include: Devoting a set dollar amount per child (and no more); agreeing to draw one “giftee” name from a group; presents just for the children; agreeing to a dollar limit for gift exchanges; or agreeing to all chip in to help one family in need (in lieu of a gift exchange).
Finally, Linus refocuses the whole Peanuts gang on the true meaning of Christmas in his recounting of the “shepherds and the star” – it is a religious and spiritual celebration. As Charlie Brown’s little Christmas tree just needed a little love and attention, we too need a little love and attention. We can use this holiday time off from work to give thanks, to be with family, and just relax. It can also be a great time for spiritual renewal. As the days grow shorter, this is a time to think about what we can accomplish with the more time we will be given as the days grow longer in the coming year. For some, spirituality may mean reconnecting with a church or synagogue, and for others it may be thinking about faith, hope, and charity – how we can become a better person. What might you do to tap into feeding your spirit? What is one step you can take in becoming a little bit more thoughtful and helpful to others? Who might you want or need to forgive, or get to know better in the coming year?
Remember during the holidays, it is okay to feel how you are feeling, set realistic expectations, and do what makes you feel relaxed, happy, and well. Happy Holidays!