Bring your Heart to the Holidays!

The holidays conjure up all kinds of thoughts and feelings, usually ones that are close to our hearts. Some people fondly recall holidays and holiday traditions celebrated growing up while others would just as soon forget. In friendship perhaps we can find the place where we can be true to ourselves, no matter how we choose to celebrate, or not, the holidays.

For many of us friends are like family. Sometimes they are our family, especially for those living far from their families. With friends we can co-create new holiday celebrations and traditions. These celebrations can be imbued with traditions friends want to share with each other and honour from their own families. At this time of year, we have an opportunity to share our personal beliefs, values, and lifestyle choices with each other through various rituals of celebration.

“Peace is the understanding that though we are each one different, we are all made of the same exquisite stuff.” ~ Leigh Standley

The winter holidays and New Years are wonderful occasions to connect with new and old friends by sending greeting cards far and wide. If you do send out cards, it can be fun to include a letter sharing the story of your year, especially for those friends you do not get to see very often. And, of course, pictures or picture cards are great too! Include ones of yourself for those friends you get to see every few years.

Another way to celebrate the winter holidays is to get together with friends and do or make things — cookies, truffles, decorations or meals. Perhaps you all give collectively to a charity. Or maybe you volunteer together. Whatever you choose to do, doing it with your friends can certainly grow your sense of connection, joy, love, beauty and pleasure of this time of year.

The holidays are often an emotional and painful time for those who have had personal losses. Just being there for friends can be a tremendous support as they make sense of what this time of year now means to them. If a friend has recently experienced a loss, some ways you can support them through the holidays are to: respect how they choose to move through the holidays, listen to their feelings, help them create a ritual to honour the memory of their loved one, or make a donation in the memory of their loved one. Sometimes just making a call or writing a note to say you remember can mean so much.

“Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they do when they stick together.” ~ Verna M. Kelly

One thing we suggest for all occasions is that it can be helpful to be clear about your expectations of your friends, especially around the holidays. Let them know what you need or want. And get curious, find out about their expectations. Clarity increases the chance that you and your friends will truly enjoy the holidays together!

At this special time of year we can demonstrate, in many ways and through many gestures, that we are keeping our friends close, in our hearts.

As you set out to celebrate the holidays, consider:

  • How can you bring genuineness and authenticity to your holiday celebrations?
  • What do the holidays mean to you now? To your friends? Friendships?
  • How do you stay connected to your friends during the holidays?
  • Do you have holiday traditions you honour with your friends? Are there any new traditions you want to create with a friend(s)?

Copyrighted 2013: The Smart Art of Friendship- Ruth Tamari and Amy Greenleaf Brassert