As we journey toward the holidays, many of us already are noticing our stress levels rising and our calendars overflowing. We notice how much we could do, buy, have, or accomplish. Sometimes we wonder how it, whatever our “it” is, will get done.
Yet, the truth is, we won’t do “it” all because we can’t. Some things won’t get done and some things, we discover, we really don’t need to do anyway.
So, rather than wind ourselves up for stress, let us instead anticipate the holidays’ simple joys. This begins as we reflect on the reason for the season: gratitude, light and love, new life and opportunities, and, especially, God’s ever-abiding, compassionate presence in our lives. From that perspective, we can rejoice in what matters most.
To guide the preparations:
- Be still and silent. Stay committed to your daily prayer and meditation practice. Use it often, especially first thing in the morning, at mid-day (or whenever you take a lunch break), and before you close your eyes to sleep.
- Put on your own oxygen mask first, especially if you have young children, care for an elderly parent or ill spouse, manage a large staff, or oversee many projects. Remember: If we burn ourselves out first, little is accomplished and holiday prep becomes a burden rather than a delight.
- Discern who and what you follow, especially if you’re healing from a recent loss, such as a loved one’s death. The 24/7/365 news cycle invariably has its share of sad stories, upsets and arguments, as well as its lists of the latest, greatest ways to spread holiday cheer. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to grieve without forcing yourself to be jolly when you aren’t.
- During meals, even 5-minute coffee breaks or 10-minute snacks, avoid news, tweets and streams. Allow your body to absorb its physical nourishment without unpalatable information you can process later.
- As you dine with others, gently guide conversations away from potentially contentious topics, such as politics and gossip, to something personal. For instance, ask guests about their favorite holiday memory, tradition, movie, music, or food, or about what kind of gifts they’d love to give and receive.
- Before you rush to buy the latest, greatest gadget or toy, consider your “stuff.” If you lost belongings in any of the recent fires, floods, quakes or slides, you were forced to do this. And if you weren’t, determine whether you or your loved ones truly want another tie, sweater, or coffee maker. Consider instead the gifts of time and presence which can be enjoyed at movies, plays, concerts, museums or bucket-list adventures.
- Overall, remember: Joy is a choice unlimited by time, place, or possessions. As we let joy flow into our lives, we feel it in our preparations as much as in our celebrations.
© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.