This time of the year, with all its hustle bustle, stress overload, money woes and pressure to make decisions, we often ignore the purpose and joy of the season.
Whether your mission is to create the Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza, atmosphere in your home, or to prepare to spend it with family and friends elsewhere, stay the course. It is supposed to be enjoyable, not a chore. Shake yourself and look around you. Smile at people. Bend to pick up that one thing that has been dropped by someone whose arms are overloaded. It’s not that hard and the benefits for you both are many fold.
Like everyone else, I sometime forget the intent of these holidays. Too often I make it about the decorating, shopping, and cooking. Wearing myself into a frazzle to find the just right gift, balancing the ballerinas on the tree and baking myself into a stupor. Do I really need all those extra calories?
This year I started early, it was the best thing I ever did. The tree is up, twinkling in the living room, performing its job admirably. Its sheltering the wrapped presents piled beneath it. When I take the time to sit in this room,to do nothing but admire this reminder of Holidays past and present, it makes me smile. I am warm and cozy whether I’ve raised the temperature on the thermostat or not.
Memories of loved ones who have passed on fill me with sweet nostalgia. Thoughts of carrying a Christmas tree with my mother up to the sixth floor apartment, my father sitting at the table set for the holidays, my sister excited over her patty play pal doll, and grandma, in her house dress, stirring the Christmas gravy. Of course I wish they were with me, here and now, but such was not to be. The belief that I will see them again, that I continue to observe some of the favored traditions, and have made some new ones of my own, embraces me casting a glow around the room.
At times I rummage through my closet for gently used clothing, household goods that are in good condition, but no longer used, or I purchase just one more toy for a child I don’t know. This reinforces the spirit of the season. The few hours to gather the bounty for those less fortunate are as important as the gifts and shopping for those closest to you. Time spent doing these things don’t add to your stress. Rather it keeps you in mind of what the season is all about, lifts your feet from the ground and carries you through the holiday cacophony.
So many people are unhappy around the holidays. You can choose to be one of them or you can go to a Holiday Party. Get in touch with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, even to just chat on the phone. You can visit with family or have a toast with friends. You can include someone in your celebrations that might not have anyone else, or donate a can of peas to a food pantry. Maybe you can say to that tired sales clerk in the store, Happy Holidays, when they hand you your purchases.
Happiness is cyclical. It grows and abounds when you share it. You can be or not be – its your choice.
Happy Holidays, my friends. Light the Menorah, Lay out the Nativity Set, Celebrate the African-American Cultural experience of Kwanzaa, or enjoy anyway you choose. It’s All Good!