How to Avoid an Empty Cup During Transition
Choose abundance over lack to fight post-holiday blues
Hey, it’s Alexandra. Welcome to my weekly newsletter where I share what I’m learning to facilitate professional development & well-being.
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In this week’s newsletter, I share how to:
Overcome post-holiday blues
Fill your cup during transition periods
Make new traditions uniquely your own
☕️ Read time: 4 mins (so grab a tea or coffee)
As someone who celebrates Christmas, the lead-up to December 25th is both exciting and exhausting—every year without fail. I often reflect on how grateful I am that Thanksgiving in Canada is in early October—not just because fall foliage adds a breathtaking backdrop, but because I can’t imagine how much more exhausting it would be to have Thanksgiving one month prior, like Americans. (Hats off to those of you who celebrate both major holidays in such proximity.)
Regardless of what your pre-Christmas calendar looks like, I think we can all agree it’s sad to take your decorations down in the aftermath.
Last year, I kept my tree and decorations up until February. On the one hand, I didn’t want to give up the cozy feel they provided, particularly at night. On the other hand, I couldn’t summon the energy to pack everything up (even though it didn’t take long and I built it up way bigger in my head).
This year, I decided to change my mindset. Instead, of a “lack” mindset around what I was removing, I decided to create an “abundance” one to fill the void of my departed decor.
I did two things to accomplish this:
I identified the “root” of my sadness. I realized my tree—which created a magical ambiance that felt wintery at large given my white lights and unconventional ornaments—was what I would miss most since it gets dark at 4:30 pm these days.
I identified a viable alternative. I realized that while I’d recently bought a small electric fireplace that creates an ambiance of coziness beyond that of my Christmas tree, I hadn’t used it much since my default was to plug in my tree. Not having the tree anymore would prompt me to use the latter. That made me excited about the transition from Christmas to general Winter coziness.
On top of the physical swap from tree to fireplace as a source of joy and comfort, I also sought out opportunities to embrace the present—while integrating the past.
Embracing New Traditions
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors.”
Having left Montreal to live overseas for most of my 20s and then returned “home” at 30, I deeply resonate with Terry Pratchett’s words. I was reminded of them a bit extra on Saturday.
Having called France home from 2018-2020, I was introduced to their tradition of sharing “Galette des Rois” (kings’ cake) on January 6th. Like Christmas, the origins of the holiday are religious—in this case, to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men (i.e., kings) in Bethlehem.
When I worked at Ubisoft, we had a whole event for it. It was a blast. We had various types of cakes which led to many interesting discussions (as god knows, the French have sophisticated palates). But the traditional one is my favourite because it’s so damn good. That’s why I opted for it on Saturday.
Upon my return to Montreal, I realized the tradition is popular here (though far less) among classic French places. So I decided to introduce my family to it last weekend. I knew everyone would love the cake (which tastes like an almond croissant) and my three-year-old niece would love the crown that comes with it—not to mention the small toy hidden inside. The rule is whoever finds the toy in their slice is anointed king or queen for the day (thus they get the crown).
I’d explained this to my niece upon arrival and assured her I’d give her the toy if I got it. She then explained as much to both her parents and mine, telling them pointedly, “If you get the toy, you’ll give it to me,” as she gestured to herself with a dainty hand. We had a good laugh but then a slight scare when we were three-quarters through the cake with no sign of a toy.
Everyone kept asking if I was sure there was one and rattled off rationales for why there might not be—like maybe it was a choking hazard by Canadian standards whereas France is more laissez-faire about precautions. (Case in point, on a ski trip to the Alps in 2020, a European friend laughed at how surprised an American friend and I were at how two chairlifts crossed OVER each other and how the metal cylinders holding them up weren’t covered with padding to soften the impact should someone crash into them. She attributed our “excessive worries” to us being products of our homelands.)
Thankfully, our cake concerns were in vain (reinforcing the European view that North Americans worry too much). We finally discovered a coin poking out of the last quarter and my niece was delighted to reveal it had a steaming cup of coffee printed on it. I suggested she use it as currency for the “espressos” she was serving with the tea set I gave her for Christmas. (My brother previously gave her an espresso machine so that’s her specialty.)
In other news, my sister added sparklers to the cake to jazz it up. It added a “wow” factor (especially for my niece) and served as a reminder that the best part of creating family traditions is putting a unique spin on them.
I hope you’re also filling your cup to fight the post-holiday blues—whether through food, fire, or other means.
Happy January and have a wonder-full week,
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☕️ If you want to grab tea or coffee in Montreal, let me know when you’re in town.