Stop seeking an elusive festive feeling: set a holiday intention instead

I’m the kind of person who puts a lot of pressure on just a regular day off to be the perfect relaxing day. So Christmas can be particularly tough with all the pressure to have the perfect festive feeling. But really, there’s no such thing as the perfect Christmas. Recently I’ve found myself wondering if I even feel festive, but I just decided to stop giving myself a hard time about it.

Don't chase an elusive festive feeling
Don’t expect a magical festive feeling to appear under the tree. 

What even is a festive feeling?

When you’re a kid there’s the excitement of the presents, the mystery of Santa. This all kind of wears off when you’re an adult. I think there’s still a lot of fun to be had in the traditions surrounding Christmas, whether that’s things you’ve done in your family for years or new traditions you’ve made for yourself. But I think we should cut ourselves some slack and not get worked up if we don’t feel festive. Feelings come and go, and there’s no way we can hold onto one single feeling for a prolonged period of time.

Set a holiday intention instead

On the train back home for Christmas I was listening to my favourite podcast Happier by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. In episode 96 they talk about setting your holiday intention. Suddenly I realised why I might have been having trouble with the holidays in the past, I was trying to achieve too many things.

The idea of setting a holiday intention is simply to focus on the one thing you want to get from this holiday. That might be to relax and rejuvenate, to have ‘me-time’, or to spend time with family. Often I’ve gone into the Christmas holidays wanting all three of those things. No wonder the result was simply stressful.

Be realistic about the holidays

As we approach Christmas day and family members start to gather together under one roof, it’s worth being realistic. Are you really going to get time to read a new novel or take long baths every night? When everyone wants to spend time together, probably not. My intention for this holiday is now ‘family time’. Setting this has allowed me to let go of the other stuff I might have tried to fit in.

If we let go of some of the control over what we should be feeling and doing over the holiday, if we simplify what we want from it, we’ll be better placed to have a merrier time. Instead of chasing down an elusive ‘festive’ feeling simply enjoy what’s happening in the present moment and fulfil your holiday intention. If we admit there is no such thing as the perfect festive feeling we might end up feeling more festive anyway.

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