Savoring Isn’t Just for Food This Holiday Season

The holidays can be one of the most hectic times of the year. While the holidays are meant to be a time of celebrating love, peace and joy, they can feel more like a time of stress, pressure, anxiety and frustration.

diane sitting on steps with three kids

Our lives can feel out of control during the holidays.

This is true especially for parents who are trying to do all the normal parenting jobs and then have the additional pressures of making all those lists, buying and wrapping gifts, decorating and hosting family events, etc.

And of course, our kids are watching us and learning from how we respond to all these pressures.

They might be learning that the holidays are all about rushing around and desperately trying to complete the many tasks associated with the season.

I understand that it might be an impossibility, here’s a thought.

Consider intentionally deciding to stop and savor those moments in which some of that love, peace and joy is found.

Why not decide the holidays should not rule our lives and take away from being able to deeply experience and fully embrace love, peace and joy? Why not claim the power we have to make the decision to do that?

Consider what it means to savor something.

A boy savoring a mouthful of food.Often savoring is associated with experiencing delicious food and taking the time to enjoy the sensations associated with eating mouthwatering and delectable foods. When we savor these foods, we stop and take time to fully enjoy the experience of eating that special something.

In fact, if you look up the word “savor,” the focus primarily is on enjoying food. Some sources do add a more general definition: “to give oneself to the enjoyment of.”

“To give oneself” means making a decision to focus on the pleasure of something, which in turn, means we shut out other things so we can have that focus.

It means we actually have to push our own pause button.

Being frantic, overwhelmed and pressured can interfere with our appreciation that we do have the power to stop and smell the roses…or the coffee…or whatever else we might want to take a moment to appreciate.

Savoring does not have to take hours.

It is a kind of mental decision to stop and notice positive sensations, those very pleasant and sentimental moments we associate with a specific object or activity.

It’s when we allow the sense of pleasure (and possibly awe) or contentment to wash over us, even if very briefly.

In those moments, we can reduce our stress and anxiety because we can place a value on something deserving of our attention and our savoring.

Children playing in the rain with umbrellas.We can also teach our children about this concept of savoring and what it involves.

We can model it by telling our children when we have hit that pause button to savor something then invite them to join in. Or perhaps they can find their own savor-able moment, and to share that.

Example: “Right now, as we drive home from shopping, I have decided to take a moment and savor the beauty of all the decorations we see and enjoy the sparkling lights. I’m going to drink it all in and realize how lucky I feel to be surrounded by something very special and beautiful. This is called savoring. Please join me in savoring something about the holidays. What do you like to take your time to really enjoy?”

Savoring is a power we have we may not often access, and therefore, we miss so many opportunities to deeply enjoy and treasure some of the beautiful life experiences all around us.

Our children, who often internalize our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, can also miss out on opportunities to slow down and appreciate the beauty around us if we don’t actively and intentionally model for them the ways we can claim our power to pause and savor.

I hope you will savor the special time in whatever ways are meaningful for you.

Drink in what is beautiful and meaningful and give yourself the gift of savoring.

Invitation for Reflection

  1. In your mind’s-eye, travel back in time and recall holiday memories you were able to savor then and can still savor today. Notice when recalling those moments in which you savored something how the joy of it—perhaps the peace and contentment you experienced—can still give you some of that same nostalgic sense of peace and joy.
  2. If you don’t have those kinds of memories, use your imagination about what could have been (and probably should have been then) and how you might now claim your power to embrace savoring.
  3. Think about moments you can encourage your children to savor. How might you invite them to share what they are savoring so you can join in with them?

Diane Wagenhals, Director of Lakeside Global Initiative