The holidays can get hectic, they can reek havoc with your sex life, eating healthy and working out. They can also lead you to a deep, sacred place where we are all loving, loved and whole.
To discover this place you have to:
Live full out.
Drop your defenses.
Be more mindful and less busy.
Another simpler way to say this is “remember to have fun!”
That is a tall order in a season full of parties, an abundance of food, ever present family, obligated gift giving, and egg nog.
Well, buck up. The holidays don’t have to be crazy, in fact they can be the best time of your year.
Live Full Out
To live full out begins with letting go of expectations, and reaching for what you want in the moment. Pleasing yourself first and letting your smile and laughter trickle down to everyone around you.
This doesn’t have to be a season of self sacrifice.
Let this be your first Christmas.
I held my seven month old granddaughter close. We were transfixed by bright white lights on the dark pine background. Her first Christmas tree, and my 65th.
Our experiences melted together fully.
After a few minutes I, without even thinking about it, began singing to her, one soft Christmas carol and then a made up song about her and me and the Christmas tree.
I didn’t need to put on a show for her. Holding her made me so happy, and she was already so full of loving wonder, she reminded me of how special each moment is.
Let this Christmas be all Christmases rolled up into one—the whole spectrum from your first to your last Christmas.
I remember my great grandfather’s last Christmas. He was 94, mostly out of it. He was so thin and fragile, sitting on the couch in a grey three piece suit: distinguished. We kids hung a little wrapping paper around him, then a lot more: making him the present. He smiled, we laughed.
Dropping your Defenses
You have a history with the holidays and with your family and friends.
Let that history go, you don’t need it anymore.
Often the best thing you can do for someone, and yourself is to see, hear and feel them newly.
Meet strangers this Christmas, not your brother, your mother or father. Let the people you know best be the people you just met. Don’t hold them to a specific role or old script. Let them be new.
I was talking to a friend the other day. He said: “We bought a new Christmas tree; I couldn’t figure out how to get it up. Guess who I called for help?”
Well, I knew he hadn’t called me, and that he was asking me was a sure sign that it was someone unexpected. I figured the president was busy so I said “Your ex-wife.”
“How did you know?” he said very surprised.
“Because this is the season of new beginnings, completion and wonderment,” I said.
This is your chance to let the old go, and begin the new with a flourish.
You do that with new eyes: not having to be who you have always been.
Being more mindful and less busy
I remember a Thanksgiving in which my wife was positively up against the wall. Too much to do, not enough time to do it, and the relatives were immanent.
I said “Lets go for a walk: lets walk it out, and let the whole day work itself out!” She glared at me, but she trusted me.
We went for a walk. We held hands, embraced the brisk morning air and spoke about nothing in particular.
When we got home I pitched in, we kept the lightness of our walk alive and the relatives came. It turned out to be a light and lively day. Not the hectic troublesome one she had imagined.
Often, we get on rails: narrow our vision and find ourselves with head down and few possibilities. At those moments do something you would never do. Do something that doesn’t make any sense.
If it seems like you just have to get busy, relax.
If you want to slave in the kitchen then sit by the fireplace for a few minutes.
Mindfulness, which has you show up, isn’t so difficult when you have all the time in the world and nothing going on.
But the best time for it is when you are time crunched or company squeezed, that is when your meddle is tested. It is then that your practice pays off, and you can really show up, extracting fun where you didn’t see any.
This can be a season of celebration, but not when it is a time of obligation.
Lighten up, let go: focus more on the pictures in your head than the ongoing conversations about what has to be done and how you don’t like, or even how you do like, the holidays.
After all, we are celebrating a birthday here and whether you are a Christian deeply moved by the birth of your savior or an atheist resolute about no reason for the season, you can use this busy, whacky time to your advantage.
You can give thoughtful presents, eat healthy, and be both sane and crazy at a time when most people are just plain nuts. But go ahead, indulge a little, there won’t be any Christmas cookies or pumpkin pie for you when you are a spirit again. But don’t go over board because the new year will surely come, and with it new experiences.
Take great care of yourself, remember that Christmas comes just once a year, make the most of it by playing full out, dropping your defenses and embracing each moment. We are all kids this Christmas.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own