The Happiness Connection  

Happy, not merry Christmas

In England, instead of wishing people a Merry Christmas, it’s customary to say Happy Christmas.

The sentiment is the same, but for some reason, swapping happy for merry makes it seem very different.

In my head, merry is an old-fashioned word that makes me think of drinking, celebrations, and jolly, old men.

According to my research, happy describes an inner feeling, while merry tends to be used as a descriptor for a behaviour.

I often say I’m a self-proclaimed happiness maven. Would it mean the same thing if I called myself a merriment maven?

I found it hard to get used to Happy Christmas. It just didn’t sound right. I resisted saying it for the 18 years I lived in England. This year, I’ve changed my mind.

There’s nothing I want more than for you to be happy this holiday season, whatever that looks like for you.

It’s been an unusual year, so a non-typical ending seems appropriate.

You might not choose to be apart from your family. It might not be ideal. But that doesn’t mean it has to be horrible. It’s up to you to decide what type of experience you want to have and how you’ll feel about it.

It’s the first year since becoming a mom that I won’t have either of my children home for the holiday. I thought this would be the perfect time to change things up and have a totally different type of Christmas.

I was thinking no presents, and a simple dinner.

My parents had other ideas. It became clear that my mom wanted to exchange gifts and that my dad was looking forward to turkey, stuffing, and roast potatoes. So that’s what we’re doing.

You may decide a traditional approach is best for you too, especially if you have children at home. But that isn’t your only choice.

Research shows that humans feel a greater sense of lasting happiness from an experience than they do from physical gifts. Instead of soothing yourself with online shopping, plan a day that’ll make you and whoever you’re celebrating with, happy.

Try to think of something that’s out of the ordinary. The idea is to create a memorable experience.

  • Plan a home spa day with relaxing music and pampering treatments.
  • Create a home theatre experience with popcorn and favourite movies.
  • Cook an elaborate meal and then get dressed up to enjoy it. If you have a friend who also loves to cook, have a shared virtual experience.
  • Plan a cribbage, ping pong, or other game tournament. Some games can be played online from different locations.
  • Choose to spend time your favourite project or hobby.

Sometimes the most unexpected experiences turn out to be the most memorable.

You might even choose to postpone Christmas, or have a second one later in 2021, when you can get together with your family.

There is nothing magical about Dec. 25. It just happens to be the day chosen to commemorate the birth of Christ. Scientists are pretty sure it isn’t historically accurate.

I know families who regularly have Christmas in July.

Feeling sorry for yourself or others who don’t have family near is a choice. Different doesn’t have to be bad or sad.

It’s okay to miss the way things used to be, but don’t get stuck there. You can opt to have a very happy, albeit different Christmas.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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