Dear Vicki: It’s been a tough year for me in many ways and the whole idea of creating the holidays my family has come to expect depresses me. But the minute I decide to cut back on buying gifts, I feel guilty. On top of that, even though my children have families of their own, when I mentioned not baking Christmas cookies, they were shocked and now I’m worried they’ll be too disappointed. I’m taking care of my own mother and working full time, so I just don’t have the energy or joy in me to do the whole holiday thing. I’m relatively new the Five Elements, but think I could be an Earth. Is there an easy way to tell my family that I want to skip the holidays this year? Signed: Tired in Tennessee
Dear Tired: I can promise that you’re not alone in your desire to skip the holidays. I’ve heard from many people – mostly women – who have expressed similar sentiments. And it’s understandable. In the US, the holidays have become a behemoth commercial event perpetuated by a retail industry brilliant at pushing all of our “make it perfect for those you love” buttons. Somehow, we seem to have bought into the idea that bigger and better gifts equate to greater love. But deep inside, we know that isn’t true. So why does it exert such a hold on many of us? It won’t surprise you to hear that I believe there’s a Five Elements reason we often go overboard with our celebrations this time of year.
As readers of this blog have heard me say time and again, the dynamics of the Five Elements model are all about obtaining and maintaining balance. Within the model, the Five Elements interact in ways that guarantee more energy will be provided if an element is deficient, and energy will be removed if an element is in a place of excess. And it works perfectly because the whole purpose of the model is to maintain a balanced state of optimal functioning. The model doesn’t decide to go crazy one month a year and overdo everything in the name of love, power, or profits. But if it did, the dynamics are there to automatically bring things back to balance.
We humans do have a tendency to go crazy around the holidays, usually in the name of love. For centuries, gift giving has been a primary expression of love and esteem. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually part of our Five Elements make-up. Sharing with others is an expression of the Earth element. Earth is also where home, family, food, and deep, lasting friendships sit. Sounds like the holidays, right? And those clever advertising people figured out decades ago that if they tied all of these things together during the holiday season, they create a very powerful message. Nothing tugs at our heartstrings more than the idea of sharing time, gifts, and meals with those we love during the holidays. And again, there’s nothing wrong with the idea. What is wrong is that the expression of this idea has become very unbalanced, mostly because our western cultures are yang-based patriarchies. Yang energy believes that more is always better than less. So in a patriarchal culture, we have come to “believe” that doing/sharing/giving more means loving more. And I think that’s where you’re getting tripped up. Honestly, that’s where we all get tripped up. We’re pretty much all celebrating the holidays from a place of imbalance and it’s taking us down. But we don’t need to go down; we can bring balance back. Clearly not for our whole culture, at least not right away, but certainly for our families and friends.