Are you looking forward to the holidays?
The other day, I passed a woman at the grocery store who was looking in disgust at the Christmas card display. She muttered, “F*cking Christmas,” shook her head, and walked away. Why do so many people feel so angry and anxious about this season? I’ll admit, although I love giving thanks, I’m not a big Thanksgiving fan. But Christmas? I love Christmas!
I love stretching out into the whole season of it. I love all the simple parts: making a fire, singing songs as I go through the day, burning my lips on hot cocoa, catching snowflakes on my tongue, baking cookies and making snow angels with the kids. I love unpacking the ornaments I made in grade school and hanging them alongside the ones the kids make. I love taking out the beat-up old snow globe music box from my Gram. I love making gifts for friends and family. I love all the little rituals like hanging the stockings, stringing popcorn for on the tree and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. But so many people seem to hate or fear this time of year. I think maybe I know why…
(Photo: 53 MM PhotogRaphy)
I think many people “bah humbug” at all the festivities of Hanukkah, Christmas and all of the winter celebrations because they don’t feel like holy days anymore. Or they think since they aren’t religious, there’s no room in their lives for things to be sacred. Or they think if they don’t have everything sorted out so their lives are Hallmark card perfect, it’s not OK to be joyful.
“I’m not religious; how can I enjoy this stuff?”
“My life is a mess; I don’t feel like singing!”
“I can’t afford fancy gifts; how can I celebrate?”
“I don’t get along with my family, don’t have a partner, don’t have what ever it is I’ve convinced myself I need to be OK; f*cking Christmas!”
They are stuck in the “winter of their discontent,” longing for something other than what is right now. They don’t feel any joy this time of year, because they didn’t feel it the rest of the year either. So many people wait until that special day for things to be wonderful, and then they wonder why that special day never arrives. It’s fun to anticipate what’s coming, but if we can’t feel the sacredness of every day, how can we expect to feel it on the holidays?
Life is difficult and beautiful. And if I shake up my beat-up old snow globe, I can choose to look at all the cracks and peeling paint, and sneer at the tinny sound of the music box. Or I can feel a childlike wonder at the tiny, falling snowflakes and familiar tune. I can let love and memories fill my heart instead of cynicism. Even if parts of it aren’t smooth and perfect, I can let it be filled and swell three sizes bigger:
I can choose to be overwhelmed and saddened by the things that are difficult.
Or I can choose to relax into the bliss of the parts that are beautiful.
I can choose to see what’s sacred about this moment instead of waiting for a different, better moment to feel joy.
What could be more sacred than this second?
Than your breath?
Than your pulse?
Than a laugh that arrives suddenly, unexpectedly?
What day could possibly be more holy than today?
Than this minute?
Than the last thought that brought a smile to your lips?
The most sacred candle is not in an elaborate menorah
or surrounded by crystal and china at a holiday feast.
The most sacred light you have is in your heart.
The most precious gift you can give the people in your life is you:
simply, without pretense, your unlimited friendliness
and your broken open heart
so they can see the light inside you.
It’s what we all want, isn’t it? It’s why every culture celebrates light this time of year. All we want is hope in the darkness that we will see the light. We need to spend this time here, in the cold, to fully appreciate that first warm day of Spring.
Don’t wait for December. Light a candle. Look at the stars. Make a wish. Be a gift. Celebrate your wonderful life.
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