Wrapping Your Heart Around The Holidays

Christmas presents stacked together on a snow covered ground with wooden stars.

Now that I live in Southern California, where the temperature seems to hold steady at 75 degrees and there’s a palm tree outside every window, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the holidays. Having grown up in Michigan, it just doesn’t feel like the holidays if the trees haven’t lost all but a few straggling leaves and the forecast isn’t calling for snow.

But alas, the holidays come and go even if I can’t wrap my head around them, even if I’m not ready. I mean, Thanksgiving is only a week away and I haven’t the slightest clue what my plans are or what’s on the menu, but it will be here in seven days regardless.

And I’m beginning to think I’ll never wrap my head around the holidays because maybe the holidays are not about knowing.

I remember the day I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. I cried because even as a child I recognized, not just the loss of Santa, but the loss of innocence. I recognized the feelings in my heart being crushed by the knowing in my head, and I was dismayed.

And now, as an adult, I secretly long for Santa to be real. I can’t watch a movie about Santa Claus without feeling sad and longing for the magic I experienced as a child to return.

If you’ve ever watched a movie about Santa, it always has a child who still believes or an adult with a childlike heart who still wants to believe. And that makes sense to me. It makes sense that the holidays are best experienced with a childlike heart because children believe without seeing. They feel their way into knowing, not the other way around.

The commercialism of the holidays has caused us to start viewing the holidays through the lens of our brains, instead of our hearts. As soon as we grow up and stop believing in Santa, we start believing in sales and societal pressure.

We start believing that the only way to be enough is to deck the halls and trim the tree and buy the best gifts at the expense of our wallets, our families, and our sanity.

Christmas presents stacked together on a snow covered ground with wooden stars. Text reads, "Wrapping Your Heart Around The Holidays."


But not me – not this year. This year I’m going to take a different approach to the holidays. Instead of wrapping my head around the holidays, I’m going to wrap my heart around them. I’m going to try to feel the magic again without trying very hard at all.

Because I am enough.

Wrapping my heart around the holidays looks like this:

  • Focusing my time and energy on the people I love the most
  • Adoring my table top tree
  • Eating pumpkin and gingerbread everything
  • Letting my husband have fun with gift giving
  • Upholding only the traditions that matter to me
  • Giving the gift of grace to myself and others whenever possible

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: grace is what we extend to others and ourselves when we acknowledge we are all human. You cannot acknowledge the humanity in others, or yourself, without extending compassion, kindness, forgiveness and empathy.

Grace seems to be lacking at the holidays almost as much as magic and joy. It disappeared right along with Santa when we decided that the holidays were going to be about knowing and doing, instead of feeling and believing.

But maybe giving grace is the secret to getting joy. Maybe believing we are enough is the secret to getting all we ever wanted this holiday season.

I may never return to the same feelings about the holidays as I did growing up in Michigan and believing in Santa because that is simply how life works. We grow up and move on and evolve. But that doesn’t mean there is no magic or meaning or joy to be found in the holidays.

The good stuff grows and moves and evolves, too. We just have to start looking for it with our hearts.

What would it look like if you wrapped your heart around the holidays this year? Comment below with your thoughts and be sure to share this post if it was meaningful to you. 

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