… Of the year!!! I really do think this is true. I really love the holiday season. I enjoy the decorating, the baking, the Advent, church services, songs, and movies. I know it's cliche, but I am the epitome of the “most wonderful time of the year” person. I am probably a cross between Buddy the elf and Clark Griswold (before the meltdown, and as a female). Don’t judge.
It is a hard time to be jolly, merry and bright for some of us, though. I know plenty of people who are riddled with guilt this time of year over family differences, marriage differences, and traditions that may be hard to embrace. My husband and I have been married over twenty years, and we both still disagree about some of the Christmas traditions, and how we celebrate them. We are both oldest children, which makes us both type A children (I mean adults) which makes it hard to negotiate and compromise. We've come a long (long, long, extremely long) way over twenty years, and we have had to make some new traditions- much to the chagrin of our parents. We are a family too, though, and sometimes we have to make decisions for us. I want everyone to be happy, and honest. It's not always easy, for sure. I don't have great advice on this one, but I do know being honest, with love, is a good choice.
World events certainly aren't so cheerful right now. I was making light of traffic and associated road rage by saying, “the holidays really bring out the best in people.” But when I paused to really think about it, it wasn't so “light”. On the contrary, I think it's pretty dark. Some people really are battling loneliness and the pressures of the holiday season. When I was working in the hospital, it was heartbreaking to have to witness the desolation of some of the patients. Now, we are in a time and place of high pressure- jobs, finances, expensive housing and living- add to that gift giving, party going, forced family fun, and a forced smile- well, it's easy to see why some people can crack.
But, this isn't meant to be a downer post. I want to encourage everyone to relax, breathe, pray, and enjoy this time of year. We could all “use a little Christmas… Right here!”
Relax: not every Christmas decoration has to go up. Some years, the tree went up, and that was it. A wreath on the door went outside, but no lights. We've had some pretty crazy stressful holiday seasons, and it's ok if the lighted skating rink doesn't go up on the hutch. The kids and I were all sick one year, and we managed just fine with the tree, and a wreath. I felt guilt, for about five minutes, and that energy ran out fast! It's ok. Promise.
Breathe: literally- in and out. Very deep. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Take a walk, take a bath, take a nap. Find a little time to relax. Go potty by yourself. It'll do you and the kiddos some good.
Pray: count your blessings. Serve. Thank friends and relatives you know that are serving in the military or are first responders. They are dealing with a lot right now. Donate old clothes and coats. Do something kind for someone. Count your blessings again. It helps. Even in hard times, being thankful for one thing, will lead to being thankful for another, and that will lead to realizing that you might just be a pretty lucky (blessed) person.
Enjoy: everything! I'll admit it's hard to enjoy all the rain we’ve had lately, but I have enjoyed the “balmy” feeling the rain brings. I love watching the lights go up on the houses in the neighborhoods. Enjoy the songs, the fun movies, the sweet movies, the funny movies. Enjoy your kids thinking and wondering about Santa, about gifts, about giving. Read some books. It's a great time to get out of the house and walk around looking at displays in the stores, or on people's lawns. Have fun. Your kids are excited, no matter what traditions you celebrate. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a Hanukkah celebration a few years ago. We learned so much and had the best time. Sometimes, our holiday differences can be a bridge to better understanding and greater sensitivity toward others. Share your traditions with each other-let that be a new tradition!
There is something for everyone this time of year!
What are some of your favorite things to do during the holidays?
What are some of your favorite traditions during the holidays?