Unwrapping Authenticity: Redefining Value in Our Holiday Traditions

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This week, as I sat down to pen another blog post – part of my bi-weekly writing challenge – I found myself hesitating. Topics like the importance of vision for new leaders, a deeper dive into authenticity, and the link between empathy, people-pleasing, and stress circled my mind. While each topic holds its merit, none resonated with me this week. 

Then, life offered inspiration.

With Christmas approaching, my daughter's enthusiasm for organizing our family's Christmas list has been a gentle nudge toward introspection. This, coupled with a thought-provoking call with my son, steered me towards a topic that I believe resonates with many: the pressure of meeting cultural, consumeristic, and holiday expectations.

The Value Vs Money Trap

Let’s dissect a common silent cultural belief: Our value and worth are equivalent to the amount of money we make (and spend).   Most would disagree, yet our actions might tell a different story. When was the last time you felt the pressure to increase your income?  Have you ever overspent at Christmas to please your family - or not disappoint your kids? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may have fallen into the trap of measuring value according to the balance of your pocketbook and possessions.

Consider these startling statistics from 2022:

  • The average American spent $932 on holiday expenses.
  • 42% anticipated Christmas expenses leading to debt.
  • A CNBC report highlighted that 25% of Americans are still grappling with the last year's holiday debt.

Do these figures reflect your experience? 

My time in Mexico during the last two Christmas seasons offered a stark contrast to the American holiday experience. There, holiday commercialization was minimal with local stores having only minimal space dedicated to holiday items. Celebrations focus on shared time together and less on the quantity of gifts. This is a sharp deviation from the overwhelming consumerism I observed while shopping at the typical US mega-stores.

Value is an inside job

This experience echoes a common theme in my coaching sessions: the struggle of measuring self-worth through external measurements.

I’ve been there, equating the quantity of Christmas gifts under the tree with my feelings of success or failure as a parent and adult. But I’ve since realized that true value, worth, and happiness are internal pursuits, not dictated by materialism or the quantity of gifts under the tree. An affirmation that guided me is:

MY VALUE AND WORTH ARE NOT DEFINED BY MY BANK BALANCE.  (or the number of gifts under the tree)

This holiday season, I propose a shift in perspective. Let’s affirm the inherent value of our loved ones beyond material gifts. My daughter, for instance, exemplifies kindness and compassion through thoughtful gifts. My sons contribute uniquely – one through his practical skills of fixing a myriad of mechanical things and the other through his ability to create connections and share memories.

I cherish experiences and expressions of gratitude more than material gifts. A heartfelt note means more to me than the most expensive present.

Take the Holiday Challenge:

Pause and reflect on what aspects of the holiday season cause you stress. This introspection might reveal areas where you are conforming to external expectations rather than embracing authenticity.

Then, find the courage to redefine your holiday traditions. Discuss with your family what truly matters. Yes, it might lead to initial disappointment, but it's an opportunity for deeper reflection and authentic living.

True leadership involves paving an authentic path for others to follow. I aspire to leave a legacy of self-understanding for my children – a gift of immeasurable value that will outlast any material present.

Vicki Haddock is an author,  professional leadership coach, and inspirer of others to live their best thriving lives!  Ready to dive in deeper but not sure where to start?  Consider Registering for the Self-Checkin that Vicki hosts quarterly or grabbing a copy of her book Confidence Unchained!

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