What a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Together with over sixty relatives and friends, the Brown family celebrated for three days straight.
We gave thanks for good health and good fortune. We said “Happy Birthday” and “Happy Holidays.” We took family photos, documenting the rapid growth of our children and the graceful aging (we hope) of the rest of us.
We ate and ate and ate and ate.
We shopped (just a little.)
By Saturday afternoon, everyone was loading suitcases and fueling automobiles, trying to beat the Sunday traffic. I think we all succeeded. Although, I haven’t gotten an official report from one of my sisters, who was driving overnight with her husband and six kids, from upstate
As we pulled back into town yesterday, we started noticing Christmas lights. Some of our neighbors have been busy little beavers. (Although, I suspect a couple of them leave their lights up year-round and simply turn them on when Advent arrives.) When we made a quick grocery run, we saw freshly cut Christmas trees, tied to cars in the parking lot.
Made me think I should get home quick, and pull down those Halloween decorations, still hanging around the house with all their pumpkins and black cats on proud display.
Which I did, today. Right after I feasted on my leftover Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce.
The holidays seem to come fast and furious this time of year.
When I turned on my laptop to start this article, I felt an almost irresistible draw to check out all the Cyber Monday shopping specials. As if this were the last day I could possibly devote to Christmas shopping.
As if I was already behind schedule.
As it happens, my younger son is home from school today, sneezing and coughing and blowing his nose every three seconds. Such are the risks of spending a weekend in close proximity with twenty-six cousins, most of whom do not carry tissues. Still, I am coming to view such things as the universe’s braking system.
Time to slow down.
Suddenly, it became very clear to me: I didn’t need to do any online shopping today. I didn’t even really need to write this article – at least, not yet. What I really needed to do was grab a box of Kleenex and a cup of tea... and spend an hour or two playing video games with my son.
It might not have seemed so clear, except that he just got Super Mario Brothers Wii for his birthday. For game-challenged, middle-aged parents such as myself (who thought Ms. Pac-Man was pretty cool, in her day), here, finally, is a game to love. It is easy to play, but not easy to win; and even if you weren’t born with bionic thumbs, you can feel good about your performance...
As my son put it, “Mom, you still stink.” He said it with love, though. And we were both smiling, laughing out loud again and again as I went through about sixty “lives” in a one-hour period.
With another forty or fifty hours of playing time, I think I’ll do just fine.
Anyway, my point is...
Well, I guess my point is that I am not going to rush into Christmas. The real beauty is that Christmas comes, whether you work for it or not. Whether you rush headlong at it, or whether you just wait peacefully to receive it.
This week, I invite you to take some time out from the holiday rush and just be still.
Maybe take a day or two to enjoy your memories of Thanksgiving. Are there things you still feel the need to give thanks for? Go ahead. Write a few pages in your gratitude journal. Load those wonderful holiday photos onto your computer and email them to someone who missed your family gathering.
Do you need to get back on track with your wellness practices? Plan a week of healthy family dinners; invite a friend to join you for a yoga class; meditate.
Take this time to get really present. Right now. Right this moment. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you feeling? Whatever your answer, it’s okay. Just be there.
Just be here.
Now, if you really want to think about Christmas, take a little time to create an intention for you and your family. How do you want to experience the next four weeks? Write it out in as much detail as possible. Put it in present tense.
“We are all enjoying the Christmas season. We are healthy, safe and together, and that is the most important thing. We feel the spirit of Christmas deep in our hearts and we pass it on to those around us. The holiday season is magical; the holiday season is easy. We find the joy in each day, each card and every Christmas cookie!
Our days are spent in mindful preparation and quiet celebration. We embrace the traditions that make us happy and release all that is stressful or burdensome. We know that Christmas is about people, not possessions and we use this knowledge to guide us through the season. We bless those less fortunate and give thanks for all that is.
Whatever we do is enough. Whatever we receive is a blessing. Christmas is magic; Christmas is family; Christmas is love.
Here is a beautiful way to slow down and connect with your family: Share some quiet story time with your children this holiday season. “Bedtime Stories for the Holidays” will get you started.
If you need a little help settling into the present moment this holiday season, try “Happiness Now!”