Holiday Stress: How to Have a Happy Holiday

It’s the holiday season. Time to make your lists and check them twice – then three, four, and fifty times more. Don yourself, your house, and your offspring with a load of holly, jolly twinkles. Scroll online until your eyes are as red, sparkly and bright as your decor. Wear a groove in your credit card and the tread off your sneakers trudging through the local mall to find just the right gifts. Sing carols, bake cookies, drink a vat of eggnog and eat a barrel of sugar, all the while staying ever cheerful and bright. It’s no wonder that with all of the giving and the getting, the buying and the boxing, and the eating and the bloating, the holidays can go from being the most wonderful time of the year, to the most stressful. When this happens to me, I remind myself what the true spirit of the season is about … having a paddle ball.

What, you may ask, does a paddle ball have to do with the spirit of the holidays? That’s a fair question. Allow me to explain with a tale from a Christmas past.

Turtle Pins and Paddle Balls

Many a winter’s eve ago, when my younger sister was about four years old, she decided she wanted take part in all the holiday gift-giving.  Since her entire life savings consisted of a few pennies keeping each other company at the bottom of her piggy bank, and since her main mode of transportation was a tricycle, she lacked the means to acquire any presents. No worries for little sis, though, because she had a plan. She would go to each of our closets and do her shopping – so that is what she did.

In Mom’s jewelry box she found a pair of earrings. My brother’s closet revealed the choicest re-gift of a decent, but half-broken, Star Wars figurine, and my older sister had a pre-read book in her drawer that she probably liked. Back in Mom’s jewelry box there was a fabulous, rhinestone turtlepaddle-ball pin that was bound to delight Dad. And for me…you guessed it! She found my long-forgotten, shoved in the back of the closet, ball–on-a-string-attached-to-a-paddle… paddle ball.  I had forgotten all about that paddle ball.

Although age has not made me any sharper in the memory department, I can remember that my Mom was touched by the gift of her new, old earrings. And I’ll never forget the sight of my father wearing that fabulous, rhinestone turtle pin. But what I recall most of all was the feeling of amusement and delight that my little sister went through the trouble to give us stuff we already had. Also, it was funny.

The Awareness of Having

The paddle ball has grown in meaning for me over the years.  I think about how resourceful it was for such a little person to make gifts of the things we already owned. As far as people pleasing, how can you go wrong with that? It was free, and it was a guarantee that the gifts would be personalized. It makes me think about how giving from a place of loving, childlike happiness is a pure act from the heart.  It’s the way giving is meant to be. Unfortunately, we often lose remembrance of the pleasure of giving from the heart as we grow older, and our gift lists grow longer. But the memory has grown to mean much more to me than just a funny family story. I have since realized that what she really gave us was an important reminder to be aware of what we already had.  In essence, it was a moment to be in the energy of having.

Having is whole, while needing, wanting and doing is lack.

When you understand the importance of your state of being in determining the outcome of your life, you understand why being in the state of having creates much more abundance for you than being in the usual holiday state of  wanting, getting, giving, or even doing. There is no wanting in having. There is no push or pull of your energies to obtain something you think you need, nor any striving to gain something you think must get – because when you already have something, you’re set. There is no more action necessary to get, to need, or to do.  Having is complete; it is wholeness, and to be whole is to be at peace. In this way, having is a state of perfect being.

To illustrate this further, there is a terrific book called, The Trick to Money Is Having Some, in which the late Stuart Wilde explains that, to attract something to you, like money for example, you must act as if you already have it. You must project your thoughts from a place of having, instead of projecting from a place of needing, or wanting. This puts you in a vibration of wholeness. When you broadcast yourself as whole, the universe responds with a rearrangement of your life energy to match.  Accordingly, you manifest abundance. Compare this to the usual state the holidays can put you in, such as wanting, needing, and doing – and you will see the difference between having and not having. Having is whole, while needing, wanting and doing is lack. From the perspective of life energy, having is what you want to have.

The Spirit of the Season

Now, I’m not suggesting that to be in the true holiday spirit, everyone should go into each other’s closets to shop for presents. And I’m also not telling you that there is anything wrong with exchanging new gifts, nor is anything wrong with any of the other actions you take to make your celebrations special. Do those things if they have meaning for you and they bring joy to you and your loved ones. What I am pointing out is that holidays don’t gain meaning from what you give, nor what you get – and working yourself into a big, shiny ball of tinsel and stress isn’t fun for anyone. The true spirit of the season is to celebrate, to give warmly from the heart, to enjoy a respite from everyday routines and share happygoodturtle moments with your loved ones. Holiday stress happens when we become so wound-up overexerting ourselves in our attempts to make a happy holiday, that we accidentally forget to just have one.

So please, if the stress of the season is getting to you, take it easy! Give yourself a few moments of peaceful solitude to rethink your holiday perspective. Then, when you do buy gifts, think not of what you have to get, but of what you get to give. Think not of all the money you must spend, instead think about how lucky you are that you have the means to spend it. Think not of what you must do, who you must see, where you need to be, or what you must make; think instead of all the abundance you already have. Think of all the loved ones you already have. Think of all of the gifts you have, right now, already in your life – and really, truly have yourself a happy holiday.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some paddle-ball playing to do. A warm and happy holiday to you and yours!


This post is dedicated to my sister, Boo. 

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