If you are reading this post while wearing stretchy pants, I commend you. Stretchy pants after all, are a key component to staying flexible. Let’s just call them leggings or Yoga pants and not pretend like us 80’s children weren’t secretly relieved to have them back as a staple in our wardrobes. Something about stretchy pants makes me feel like I’m home. I will never forget the spandex tornado of colours that were strewn about my closet as a young figure skating child. Heaven I tell you, pure bliss.
Yoga pants though are not the focus of this post, but being stretchy and flexible is. I don’t mean to keep referencing the elasticity in our waistbands (glorious), but I do mean the flexibility and elasticity of our emotional selves throughout this Holiday Season. In my mind and for my heart, emotional fitness is never a more paramount skill than between December and January.
In my previous post I mention “triggers”. The proverbial trip wire intended to catch us off balance. Bastard. For some, these triggers are physical addictions like ginger bread cookies or delicious mulled wine. For others they are the emotional landmines that explode when faced with certain family members, or situations that are neither healthy nor healing. “When are you getting married?” “When are you having a baby?” (When are you going to stop making me feel like I haven’t accomplished everything on the universal checklist?) Even worse, some triggers are just the memories alone of what once was and what has been.
As a kid I grew up waking up on Christmas being excited and happy. I am six and eight years younger than my siblings and was often spoiled rotten being the “baby” of the family. My parents were still together and sometimes we were lucky enough to even have my grandparents stay for Christmas too. In my mind it was dreamy. But that was then and this is now. My parents are no longer together and we have very different Christmas mornings. And even for those of us who haven’t lost a loved one or lost a family unit, we grow, we partner (or we don’t) and Christmas is often spent trying to divide time equally amongst families (or trying to find someone to spend it with).
I think the danger in it all is remembering Christmas as a perfect time. Seeing the season through the eyes of a child is magical and when children are involved I still encourage this approach! But as an adult reflecting back I realize that the holidays often brought my parents strain and pain trying to get along in the face of others and make the appearance last that we were a happy functioning unit. We were hurting and family life was tough. This must have made it even harder on my parents at this time of year. I’m grateful for the memories I have but I am learning that this time of year is extremely hard on all of us.
That being said, I think the key to a happy season is knowing that it will be different each year. Knowing that some people will be around one year and maybe not the next. This way, we can appreciate the moment and the people in it. Know that it is what it is right now and that we are so infinitely lucky to have tinsel and sparkle and Starbucks. Staying flexible in plans and expectations allows for imperfection. And let’s face it we are all gloriously imperfect. Someone might show up and forget a present, but hey, at least they showed up. And showing up in my book is sometimes WAY braver than buying a present.
Staying flexible allows us to be compassionate with ourselves and others around a triggering time. It means that we truly show the meaning of Christmas as one that accepts a person for who they are and for what they show up with, without judgement or expectations. It means breathing a deep sigh of relief knowing that I AM ENOUGH and that hostess gifts and presents are just THINGS. But that human connection is LOVE. And by showing up we are showing and receiving LOVE.
Yoga pants are definitely recommended dinner attire, but if you wear your yoga pants do so in the spirit of being flexible and gentle with your expectations of yourself and others during this Holiday Season.