When the holidays approach, most of us go into traditional modes, doing the same things we’ve always done to celebrate. But if suddenly the old rituals become empty and you’re just not feeling it anymore, you can use journaling to bring you to new, heightened appreciation.

Though we have religious interpretations and we’ve identified cultural roots of our winter holidays, the time also has natural meaning for us, grounded in the physical and psychological need for renewal in the middle of winter, when indeed, the daylight hours begin to lengthen.
That means that whether we’re religious or not, whether we have close families or not, whether we cherish traditions from the past or not, we benefit from the pause in normal activities, and from absorbing the numerable piquant sensations of the special season.

After many years, you may realize your response has become reflexive, and you may wish to refresh, to get in touch again with the natural part of you that joyfully perceives the holiday’s gifts.

Begin a couple months ahead, and talk to your journal about your current expectations.

“We’ll have Thanksgiving at Aunt Nancy’s and Christmas at Grandma’s as usual. The menus will be just like last year. My nephew Tim will have a tantrum. My mother will develop a migraine.”

At your next journaling session, write your plans regarding your preparations for the holidays.

“I’ll bake a chocolate pie for Thanksgiving to take to Aunt Nancy’s and I’ll go to Grandma’s and pretend I’m helping cook the Christmas dinner, but mostly I’ll hang out watching TV. I have 15 people to buy presents for. Maybe I can shop the weekend before.”

Next time you journal, make a list of things that you connect with Thanksgiving. Then make a list for Christmas. Circle the positives in each list and write them on a new page.

Use your list of positives. For example, your list may have originally included:

“cold air, little lights, not getting what I want, Dad drunk, good food, boredom … “

And of that list, the positives would be “little lights” and “good food.” So today, work just with those two terms. Write freestyle at length about each one.

Now begins the heavy labor. Focusing on your positives, one at a time, spend the days before the holiday researching, enjoying, and finessing your positives. Brainstorm all the ways you can imagine “little lights;” comb the cookbooks for perfect recipes. Ask your journal for coaching in the quest.
And then, this year, things will be different. You might not be able to neglect your accustomed duties, the ones that have become more like chores. You may still have to assemble your dishes and gifts, and decorate and greet warmly. But your journal will show how to infuse it all with new appreciation.

“I found a recipe to make my chocolate pie with raspberry jam and a graham cracker crust and I can’t wait to try it out.”

“I’m learning how to make candles, and those are going to be my gifts this year. Even little Tim will get a special candle with his name on it.”

“There’s nothing I can do about my mom’s migraines, but I’m going to be sure, this year, that she just relaxes, and I’ll take care of things. I’m going early to Grandma’s to cook, and she can just sit there and tell me what to do.”

Using your journal to guide you to fulfillment in the holidays will quickly become a new tradition for you!

Author's Bio: 

Mari L. McCarthy is The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Create Write Now, home of Journaling for the Self of It™. Mari offers counseling and encouragement to journal writers through her many online journaling resources, as well as private consultations. CreateWriteNow’s Personal Journal Blog provides articles on how starting and sticking to a daily pen to page Journaling Practice can help you access your inner intelligence and transform your life. Mari offers lots of Journaling Free Stuff with free Journaling eBooks and free samples from her 15 eBooks, including Start Journaling and Change Your Life in 7 Days, and Who Are You? The 7 Day Journaling Challenge. Mari’s most recent publication is Journal Through Your Grief: 7 Days to Heart Healing Happiness. Please visit http://createwritenow.com