Radical Beauty for Holiday Hard Times

Many people get sad during the holiday season. All that rampant, excessive holiday promo about love and family, cheer and gift-giving makes us feel that the whole world is imbued with generosity and kindness, whereas our own particular world is mired in sorrow and gloom. We feel despondent that we have fallen so short on jubilation, and our lack of cheer seems a personal failure.
Here are a few suggestions for bringing beauty, generosity, delight, and even radical joy into your holiday this year:
1. If you’re wishing that someone would notice that you’re lonely, don’t wait for them to contact you. Reach out to another person. Ask how they’re doing and suggest getting together.
2. Instead of buying a lush, green tree to decorate, arrange sticks in a bucket and trim them with lights and ornaments. Or (see 52 WEEKS OF GUERRILLA BEAUTY below) put up a dead tree and make it so gorgeous you fall in love with it.
3. Spend time in nature. Whether it’s a city park, a vacant lot, your own back yard, or a wilderness, walk with curiosity and openness. Pause and tell a tree what you’re feeling. Then lean against it and let it support you.
4. Instead of spending money on gifts, suggest to family and friends that you share stories. The stories could revolve around a certain theme, such as “My Most Memorable Encounter with a Stranger” or “A Place I Loved When I Was a Child.”
5. If you’re shopping for gifts in a busy store and feeling stressed and impatient, turn things around by thanking the salespeople and cashiers for their hard work. Note what happens when you do.
6. Do something unpredictable. Go sing Christmas carols. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Invite people over for tea. If you don’t like parties, go to one anyway and make it a point to find one person who has something amazing to tell you.
7. Go to a wounded place and make a gift of beauty for it. Nature is our oldest, most enduring, and most patient teacher. When you make beauty for a hurt place, the place will be glorified in your eyes, and you will feel yourself transformed.


Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • Tree With Ornaments: Michelle D.


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.

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