If the holidays are supposed to be so happy, why do I feel so terrible?
Holiday movies, carols, and greeting cards assure us December--especially Christmas--is "the most wonderful time of the year."
Yet how many times have you heard people confide their favorite holiday actually is Thanksgiving? How many years have you made it through December's rush, only to be disappointed, depressed, or exhausted by the time Christmas finally comes?
If ever you have felt that way, be assured you are not alone. In fact, the holidays as observed in modern America are more often a source of stress than celebration.
With some knowledge of the underlying astrological energies of this time of year, however, it is possible to reclaim the wonder and joy of winter's feasts and festivals by harmonizing yourself with this season's natural rhythms and deeper purpose.
Every year, around November 23, the Sun moves from intense Scorpio into fun-loving, happy-go-lucky Sagittarius. Suddenly, the mood lifts and our spirits soar, because Sagittarius wants nothing so much as a good time. This shift coincides with Thanksgiving, a holiday centered around gratitude, celebrating nature's bountiful harvest, and enjoying a comfortingly abundant and traditional feast. Also, Thanksgiving's simple, sensual pleasures carry no obligation to buy gifts.
After this holiday, Sagittarius's ruler, Jupiter, begins to work its magic--and plenty of mayhem. Much like the Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Jupiter inspires us to eat, drink, and be merry as we think only of the present. With its big and generous nature, Jupiter pushes us to expand constantly and set aside the normal rules of life.
This expansive, enthusiastic energy can become so overwhelming--and frankly, so enjoyable in the short term--that many people happily go to excess by spending beyond their means on extravagant presents, partying more days than not, drinking a goodly amount of alcohol, and dining daily on rich party fare. Most of us also take on Herculean tasks we attempt at no other time: sending cards to everyone on our address list, baking special cookies and treats, putting up and decorating a tree, attending seasonal entertainments, and socializing with everyone we have neglected the rest of the year.
Over it all hangs an inflexible deadline, for ready or not Christmas comes December 25. To make that deadline, many people take a typically Sagittarius approach: they sacrifice sleep by staying up late or even all night at times, they stop taking quiet time for themselves, and they give up all the healthful routines that take too much time--particularly regular exercise.
Compounding the season's physical challenges, this festive frenzy builds at the same time the Sun is in its final waning weeks of the year--meaning there is less daylight every day until the Solstice, the shortest day of the year, on December 21. In any waning period, our physical energy is diminished because we are meant to turn our attention inside ourselves in order to rest and reflect.
The turning point in this annual drama occurs on the Solstice, when the Sun leaves fiery, ebullient, jovial Sagittarius and enters cold, sober, hardworking Capricorn. If Sagittarius is the Ghost of Christmas Present, Capricorn feels like the Ghost of Christmas Future: unforgiving and utterly serious. Ruled by Saturn, the stern taskmaster of the zodiac, Capricorn calls us to cultivate the rewards of discipline, practical effort, and adult responsibility.
Although Saturn's seeming harshness always operates for our greater good, it feels like punishment--especially if we are overtired, hung over, sick, and stuffed to the gills with holiday goodies. Even worse, as the Sun waxes, meaning the days begin to get longer after the Solstice, the increased light shows us all our shortcomings and the consequences of our Sagittarian excess: exorbitant credit card bills, piles of dirty dishes after a party, family relationships requiring repair, and bulging waistlines badly in need of exercise.
Bring back joy through balance, wise choices
While the astrological deck may seem stacked against us this time of year, you can bring back holiday joy by focusing on balance and taking time to make wise choices. Start by being aware of the powerful energies operating at this time of year. Knowing that Sagittarius will expand whatever we focus on--and Capricorn will make us pay for any excesses--think about what you most want to expand during this time and what you prefer to minimize.
*Sit down with your family to reflect on what you love most about the holidays and what typically brings difficulties each year. Allow yourselves to rethink your approach to the season and reinvent it if necessary to ensure your days will be "merry and bright." Keep only what is most enjoyable, meaningful, and manageable and let to of outworn traditions.
*As you make your plans, leave time in your schedule for surprises and spur-of-the moment outings or invitations. Be realistic about your need for rest and avoid the common trap of trying to see everyone in your social circle during the month. Reserve most of your time for loved ones, close friends, and needed time alone; defer other social engagements to the new year.
*Remember this time of year is one of feasting and allow yourself to enjoy the special holiday dishes and treats you love. To maintain balance, make these goodies part of your regular meals instead of snacking on them throughout the day. Also, get some exercise daily--try going for a walk as a family after dinner, getting outdoors to enjoy the first snow, or enjoying winter sports such as ice skating or skiing.
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