Dear Vicki: “I’m devastated that my grandchildren won’t be here for Thanksgiving. How could their parents decide to take them to Hawaii?”
Dear Vicki: “I don’t want to go to the company holiday party. Can I get out of it?”
Dear Vicki: “My husband is obsessed with finding the perfect gift for his best friend. How can I convince him that’s not the point?”
Dear Vicki: “I want to host the family holidays this year. I throw better parties, but my sister says they’re too loud. Who should win?”
Dear Vicki: “My wife and I have always had a quiet ceremony on New Years Eve, but now she thinks we should go to her best friend’s house instead. Really?”
Dear Readers: To paraphrase A Tale of Two Cities, the holiday season is the best of times, and the worst. The holidays celebrated from November through January, replete with tradition and meaning, guarantee that fun and ceremony will likely end up co-mingling with pushed buttons and dashed expectations. “We’ve always done it this way; that matters to me” must dance with “We’ve always done it this way; I think it’s boring.” To help you navigate the holiday season and keep your relationships harmonious, I offer a brief summary of what will matter to each of the elements, and what won’t. There are also a few suggestions regarding ways to keep the season happy for everyone.
Water People: Odd as it may seem, the hustle-bustle of the holidays sits in Water time, which is winter here in the northern hemisphere, a time for quietness and contemplation. This energy of going inside sets the tone for Waters’ lives, so don’t expect your Water friends and family to start acting like Fires just because the holidays are here. On their own, or in quiet talks with others, Waters will emphasize the meaning of the season and how it relates to the bigger picture of almost everything. Ultimately, they might be willing to participate in events they deem important, but you may still need to coax. If and when they do show up, help them feel welcome and part of things by finding a small group of people with whom they can enjoy deep discussions. I know one woman who invites several philosophy junkie friends to her family party every year to help keep her Watery uncle engaged. Be gentle with the Waters and remember that if things get too intense, they might float away to a quiet cove for a while. Let them. And holiday season or not, remember that time alone will still be of paramount importance to your Water friends and family.
Wood People: The Woods in your life will approach the holidays with planning zest and zeal. There will be lists of gifts, deadlines for mailings, calendars of events, etc. Woods need to do this because it helps the holidays feel less chaotic for them. Chaos takes down Wood and drives it crazy. Remember that Woods are new yang; they are the channel between the mystery of Water and the celebration of Fire. During the holidays, more than most other times, Woods need a foot in both worlds. Busy-ness won’t be a problem for them, but they also need quiet time in between events to anchor their roots in the ground and prepare for the next onslaught of merriment. Whatever they are doing, from finding the perfect gift to throwing the perfect party, if they spin out remind them that the spirit of the season matters more to most people than a gift or an event. And if you expect Woods to enjoy themselves at a holiday event they didn’t plan, give them a role. Greeter, punch-maker, speaker, guest book monitor, whatever. Having a role makes them more comfortable and likely to have a good time. The Woods in your life will probably march through the holiday season in great shape if you allow them time to prepare and support them in accomplishing the goals they set, whatever those may be.
Fire People: Fires guarantee that the holidays will be happy and lively. Fires are full yang, which equates to summer, a season of action, abundance, and merriment. Winter is often a dreary time for many Fires, so the opportunity to gather with others and celebrate almost anything is usually very welcome. Parties will be fun, spontaneity will abound, and everything will be marvelous during the holidays for most Fires. Give them opportunities to connect with people, and be the center of attention, and they will be happy. That said, Fires will probably need some help with boundaries regarding how many events they can attend and stay sane (it’s more than you might think if you’re not a Fire). If you do this, your Fire friends and family will light up the holidays without burning out themselves, or you. And remember, Fire is about inspiration and transformation, so don’t be surprised if Fires are especially drawn to holiday events that have a cause or inspire action. Fires love everyone involved in fun and happiness.
Earth People: The holiday season was made for Earths! Most holiday events include getting together with family and friends, which is so important for them. And almost every gathering involves food, especially sweets, which is total Earth heaven! Long-time connections matter deeply to Earths, so their holiday activities will be built around time spent with loved ones. Earths hate when people are left out, so are often the ones who volunteer to cook or serve food to the less fortunate. And because Earths like to feel needed, remember to include them in planning and hosting events. Earths also love to give gifts they’ve made themselves, so be patient if your sister is overly preoccupied with knitting matching sweaters for her five children. Let the Earths in your life express their love, but help them avoid overwhelm by reminding them that more is not necessarily better. Four desserts for any one meal are plenty. Earths represent balance, but even they can overdo things during the holiday season. Assure them that other people want to help them just as much as they want to help others, and all will be well.
Metal People: During the holidays, the Metals you know might need a little help getting into the holiday spirit; frivolity can seem like such a waste of time to them. However, they’re very kind people who bring wisdom to any gathering, so cajole them into attending and everyone (including the Metal) will be glad they did. The past is the arena of Metal, so including a bit of history or context as part of any celebration will make the event more relevant for them. In most Five Elements models, Metal holds the position as the last element. If they are balanced, the transition from one year to another will be easy for a Metal. However, sometimes ending a year or remembering someone who is no longer with them can make Metals sad. The easiest way to help Metals avoid this pitfall is to include them in holiday events where the nurturing of Earths can feed them and the joy of Fires delight them. Even though they protest, holiday gatherings are usually very good for Metals.
The bottom line is that every one of the Five Elements brings their own gifts (and pitfalls) to the holidays. With a little awareness, we can help create an enjoyable holiday season that enriches and deepens all of our relationships. I wish that for everyone!