It’s now officially the week of Christmas!! How do you feel? Are you “ready”? If you created a “Christmas Objective” how have you been implementing it in the last few weeks? As I usually say, I continue to hope that you have been able to utilize this strategy to allow yourself greater peace, freedom and joy in this holiday season.
As this is the last time we’ll talk before Christmas I wanted to take a minute to send off one last note of encouragement and power to you all.
By this time every year let’s see, we’re thinking about how few free hours there are left before the big day; deciding what additional gifts are needed, if we can afford to add a few more; finalizing the menu for Christmas Eve and morning, prepping for dinner; starting to welcome family from the corners of the country or world into our homes; maybe finishing wrapping the gifts and stuffing stockings? If you’ve been following along for the last few weeks I’m hoping that you have been able to plan, prioritize and prepare so that you aren’t feeling the least bit frantic as Christmas approaches. I know that I have been able to minimize my stress, remember my goals and keep the expectations from crowding out my daily joy.
If you read that and chuckled to yourself “Oh yeah? There are still four days left for you to freak out! Give it time!”, you aren’t the only one thinking that. I still have moments of forgetfulness when I somehow hear the mall calling my name and just know that I have to go there and buy gifts. I bought groceries today and as I walked through the aisles picking up our usual grocery items a few festive recipes came to mind and for the briefest moment I thought of buying the necessary ingredients. But it’s all good. I remembered what I have already done, what I plan and what will bring me and my family the most joy. Yet another holiday treat isn’t going to do it!
So here we are, with the celebration right in front of us in all its splendor. I want to encourage you, as the day comes ever closer and as the parties and events and celebrations happen,
relax and be present.
It’s natural to wake up Christmas morning and wish that you had decided to make waffles instead of pancakes, regret the gift choice as someone is unwrapping it, scold the kids for playing with just one toy instead of opening the pile of gifts next to them. Natural, but probably not the most fulfilling and pleasant experience, for anyone.
This is your time, your family’s time. You will serve no one by stressing out over how the event plays out, how people react to what you’ve planned, your lack of decorations, or your over-done ham. That stuff happens and will happen. Please don’t let it steal your joy! Worrying about the details, stressing when things don’t go as planned, is useless. There’s a Bible verse that says “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” I find this thought so helpful when I’m tempted to dive into a spiral of worrying and stressing. If there is something that can be done about the thing occupying your mind, do it. If not, acknowledge that there’s nothing you can change so worrying would be unproductive and let it go! I know, easier said than done, right? All I can say is take a deep breath, do your best, be gracious with yourself, and find something you love to help you let go.
The verse goes on to say “Consider the lilies of the field, they don’t toil or spin, and yet not even Solomon in all of his splendor was clothed as beautifully as these!”. You know how amazing trees look in freshly fallen snow? When the sun glitters off of their heavy, bending branches? As the snow is falling maybe the tree is thinking “Hey, I need some more over here! Ugh, if only I could move a little to the left, I would feel so much better. Geez, tree next to me, you’re giving me weird snow lines!” You know how much time and effort they put in to their Christmas look, how much time they spent worrying about whether that snow would make them look fat? Yeah, exactly. Take a lesson from a tree: relax, and let it be.
Just like worrying can rob you of this precious moment, so can a million other things. Thinking about the next item on the agenda, wishing that you had more time, being frustrated with Auntie So-and-So’s comments at dinner, all take you out of the moment and keep you from getting anything from it.
Instead of spending your day caught up in your own thoughts and expectations, do your best to be present in the moment. When you feel your mind wandering beyond the present, take a minute to acknowledge that thought then intentionally return to your immediate surroundings. Focus on the smells, on the twinkling lights, on the peaceful moments, on the smiles of the people around you, the taste of the delightful treat you are eating. Christmas is a celebration, regardless of your beliefs. A time to marvel at the miracles around you, embrace the pursuit of peace and joy, and to be grateful for all that you have and experience while generously giving to those you love. The most wonderful gift that you can give to those individuals is your attention, wholly and without distraction.
As much as you may wish it, your Christmas won’t be from a Hallmark movie; your dinner is not a scripted scene with witty dialogue, actors who always act their part, and picture perfect props; your life is not a production. Things will get messy, people will hurt and be hurt, judgement may be cast, food may not turn out perfectly. Which is just as it all should be. Where is the beauty of the season if not in the way we laugh over the overcooked turkey, forgivingly hug the one who has caused us hurt, and graciously overlook the potential offenses?
May your holiday be filled with joy, love, and indulgence, and may you share some of that goodness through the rest of the year.