If you are like me, you might have cringed when you noticed that this is a picture of Christmas ribbon that I snapped when I was decorating (yes, decorating) over the weekend. Is it really that time of the year already? Are people seriously decorating before December? I did wait until after Thanksgiving, though some of my neighbors decked out their houses immediately following Halloween. Are the stores really open on Thanksgiving this year?
The truth, however, is that the holidays have officially begun. Whether we like it or not. We kick off the season with Thanksgiving, offering gratitude for all of the good in our lives — friends and family, health, meaningful work, shelter and food (oh, so much food…). Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa follow with a time to celebrate and share the light in our lives. The grand finale is New Year’s, providing a time for hopeful dreaming for the future.
Every year, the holidays sort of sneak up on me. Mostly, I go into avoidance mode. I tell myself that I’ll really celebrate once the semester is over, the holiday shopping is done, or I’ve trekked up to our families in Minnesota. Unfortunately, more so than not, I am left feeling a bit empty. Feeling like I somehow missed seeing the extra in the ordinary. Feeling like I missed a special moment to savor the sacred. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly eat enough food and I certainly spend enough money, but I often can’t help but feel like something was lost. This year, I’m trying to find some balance in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Some peace while enjoying the special moments.
At the outset, I’m taking some time to personally reflect on what I want this season. I’m asking myself what will help me remain mindful of the magic. In a season that is full of excess, we sometimes need to make a list to focus on the bare essentials and purposeful excess (excess that we purposefully engage in and truly enjoy) to deeply experience the season. I’ve begun making a list and here’s what’s on it.
1) I love watching the Christmas specials, especially the animated ones, but because they are shown early, I almost always end up missing them. I’ve looked up the dates and times for my favorites.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas ABC Nov 30, 7:00 PM
Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer CBS Nov 30, 7:00PM
It’s A Wonderful Life NBC Nov 30, 8:00 PM
A Charlie Brown Christmas ABC Dec 7, 7:00PM
Frosty the Snowman CBS Dec 11, 7:00 PM
2) I developed a new ritual for holiday shopping. I decided to do all of my Christmas shopping online. Shopping in stores around the holidays is stressful. I popped in a Christmas CD one evening, gave thanks for having a little extra money to show my appreciation for my family and friends, and peacefully ordered gifts from the quietness of my laptop.
3) Cut down on my blog posts. I’ll still be taking 1 photo each day, but I’ll only be updating my blog 1-2 times per week. I enjoy taking the pictures, but sometimes feel like updating my blog is just one more thing that I have to do. I hope to take some time to reflect on what my blog is and what I want it to be.
4) I’m filling several boxes of things — clothes, shoes, food — for charity. It is a time to give to others who are need.
5) I planned a special weekend with my mom to bake my favorite Christmas cookies.
6) I’m going to listen to some of my favorite Christmas tunes each night while I drink a special beverage.
None of these things are extraordinary. I think I’ll find more joy in the season by focusing on the extra meaning in my ordinary actions, like baking and watching television. Do you have any additional suggestions for me to ponder? What do YOU need to make this season meaningful?