Okay, the wrinkled and rancid pumpkins from Halloween are in the trash. The Thanksgiving platters are shiny clean. Another holiday is on the horizon, and I’m already zapped! Since about sixteen days ago, the sun started disappearing surprisingly too early and coffee doesn’t quite do the trick. My get-up-and-go has up and gone.
And it’s not just me, either. My sister and my friends are feeling the same way. Mustering up the energy for feasts and celebrations, not to mention crafting and decorating, cooking and wrapping seems trickier than usual. I, of course, feel the need to run every experience through the filter of Creativity to uncover the root cause of our collective lethargy. What’s going on here?
It would be easy to blame commercialism and financial burden for our malaise, because so much of what goes into the holiday season is external: running around from store to store, biting our tongue in parking lots, waiting in long lines at the post office, cooking, cleaning, and cleaning some more. Everyone has silently agreed to this contract with Christmas and Hanukkah.
It goes without saying that our stress levels will go up, while our bank accounts go down. The average family will spend close to $1,000 on gifts, and that isn’t counting feast preparations. If we can then manage to avert a mean flu bug whilst managing holiday cheer, well then, we belong to the lucky ones. All of this mayhem sounds uncreative and draining, even irritating, to be fair.
Learning how to manage our to-do lists is nothing new. But from where I sit, it can turn out to be a Creativity Fest if we choose to approach it from a Creative perspective.
There’s the problem-solving component to Creativity that helps our brains grow—each time we must shift our proposed budget, or switch our gift exchanges mid-wrapping! There’s also a puzzle to be completed with the ordering of 12 days’ worth of gifts.
There’s the divergent thinking component—where we make long lists to Santa or devise long lists as Santa’s elves that we later pare down with our convergent thinking skills.
There’s the kitchen component, where we use our five senses to mix, chop, bake, sauté and cook our traditional recipes that connect us not only with the earth—think orange sweet potatoes, blood-red oranges, bright green beans, summer yellow squash, cinnamon-scented cider – but also with our culture, our ancestors, our family members. Meals that have been circulating throughout one’s lineage for years are sometimes the only connection to the past that we have left.
There’s the artsy component, where many of us participate in artistic endeavors that we normally would not, such as: theatrics at church, singing songs at synagogue, congregating around the piano in harmony, and assembling colorful wreaths.
There’s the reflection component of Creativity, where we dig out the ancient address book and handwritten Christmas cards, causing us to reflect on everyone we know or have known, and wish them a Happy Holiday.
Creative acts help to connect us with our internal realm. Even the demanding nature of the holiday season is not without a deeper message for us as individuals and as a society. When we attach to the internal, it will make the external that much more meaningful.
Since Creativity is the phenomenon that connects us as a species, it is the very same phenomenon that is behind our efforts at party-throwing and family gatherings. Our need for connection is part of what makes us human. The holidays can be a perfect opportunity to exercise our Creativity, ultimately connecting us to our internal realm and with one another.