Another Holiday Hell? Or Another Opportunity, Its Up To You!


I am preparing for my upcoming visit to my fiancées family for the holidays. As I reflect back on past holidays I think of how challenged I felt at times over the years at holiday gatherings.  Triggered by family members, feeling alone or awkward. At times it seemed like the only thing in common was that we were family. It can be challenging for any of us to be with family that may not share our views on the environment, spirituality, or other core life subjects.
This is a common theme amongst men since we do not address our emotions as fluidly as women (complete stereotype but you know what I mean).  We tend to keep our emotions hidden behind our manly facade.
When we are not in tune with our emotions nor communicating them through our words or creating boundaries, we end up tight and contracted.  I myself have spent holidays in my own internal hell as I sat in tension and judgment.
Now I know that this is a challenging task with family because even though they are family, we might not feel a deep heart connection.  We many not feel as connected as we do with our friends and community.  And yet, here is an opportunity to touch into our wounds and to create space for healing.

How can we make this holiday more meaningful?
How can we use this holiday as an opportunity for conscious growth not just making it through?
How can we bring more joy to others?


One of the big challenges I experience at the holidays is around a four lettered F word, “Food”. This has been a big internal issue, especially for a progressive minded guy like myself.  I immediately go into judgment when I witness others unaware of their food choices.   My internal dialogue is “Why are they buying their turkey from huge factory farming company?  Why are they eating non-organic GMO vegetables?”
Judgement = Contraction and Shut down.

I know this is my own issue and I am aware of the judgments. Remembering that the meal that is set out before us is done with love. I choose to see the beauty of my family and use my own contraction as fuel for my growth. Remember, that they are doing the best they know how at this time. It is so important to keep a keen eye on your skillfulness in working this with this situation. Take care of your own  health while staying open to what is in front of you. I also need to lighten up a bit, dude!

Celebrating Rituals

For me Hanukkah is devoid of any real depth even though I know it stands for something beautiful. I have always loved the story of Hanukkah, the festival of lights. But I must admit, I do not have any emotionally rich connection to it. It is a symbol and reminder to spend time with family and people I love.   But my heart… well, my heart is held by Buddhism. So, how do I engage in the family celebration while no longer believing in the religion?

Everyone has his or her own relationship with the divine. Yes, religions control out of fear and yes, religions continue to have wars based on all kinds of “logic”.    And yet, religion can be a foundational place for a person to connect with God.  I choose to practice compassion and acceptance of all.  I can bring my spiritual foundation and the Buddhist teachings to this holiday gathering and see all through the eyes of the compassion.

Old Identity

When we are around people we have known for much of our lives we can revert back to the habits and identity of which we once were. The clown, the black sheep, the cynic, the victim, the philosopher.   When we behave in a way that is not reflective of whom we currently are, it can be torturous and exhausting.   I know when I show up and have to be the “me” from the past, I once again go into constriction.  I desire to be seen for the man that I am today and hold that as a reflection for the man I want to become.

Be you.  Share who you are even if there is a misunderstanding or a misperception.  Fitting in to make others more comfortable is not who you are.
Be the living the example of change and growth through shining your light.  Running from the challenges is not the way to dissolve it, it may be more uncomfortable but if we don’t process it this year then we will have to do it the next year and the next and the next… This IS the way of our evolution, growth, lightness, loving and ultimate success in life
Being In Family/Community

The drive to be in community is a spiritual imperative. Most humans are naturally social animals. This is where we learn to be loving beings, this is where real growth occurs. Many people create a new family through community because being with immediate family has too much trauma. For me, it has been easier and more relaxing to be with my chosen family as there is a common foundational way of living and being but I love my family and choose to clear my own internal triggers.

Remembering that our birth and marriage families are there to assist in our unfolding and offer us opportunity to take responsibility for our own upsets. Being with your family can also be a great mirror for how much work you have done on yourself over the past years.

Face The Challenges

Yes… You can muster the courage to face the challenges that arise when you are with mom, dad, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, grandma, grandpa cousins.  Remember that our outer experience is a refection of our inner reality and that we are the cause of our own suffering.
I know that any and all issues and upsets that I experienced were generated inside of me.
If necessary, create some boundaries if you are relating with someone that has caused you serious harm. Create a loving boundary in a simple visualization.

  • Create an intention for yourself such as “I intend that I am in my breath before I speak”  or “I intend that I am gentle & kind through acts of loving”.
  • Prior to going to a family gathering, ask for support from your wife/husband or friends.
  • Take little breaks in the back/front yard to ground yourself (don’t just hide in the tv room). The more you engage while being in your breath, the more upsets you can clear within yourself.
  • Focus on the good you see in others >>> Focus on the good >> Focus on your breath. This is the key!

 I humbly ask for your Comments in the box. It is really helpful, thank you!