It is looking festive here at The River Center. Tis the Season. The snow is on the ground, the carols are playing in the stores and on the radio, the festive lights are in the windows.
We turn our thoughts to celebrating the holidays and spending time with our families.
The problem with this idyllic picture is that many times the very people we hold so dear; the love, joy and peace we seek, eludes us. We become our own worst enemies, hustling and bustling with an intensity that makes all those around us run and hide.
Early in my parenting years a friend told me about her own mother and the perfectionistic holidays she attempted to create each year. She baked and cleaned, decorated and caroled. She crafted gifts for everyone. Wrapped each present with the perfect little bow and tag. Every moment was spent in preparing for the ultimate holiday experience. The only problem was that her children dreaded December. Mom turned into a wild woman. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t jolly. My wise friend determined that she would keep things simple and fun. That she would make her loved ones the priority, not the trappings. I keep coming back to this wisdom.
So, how can we keep it simple and fun? How can we shake the traditions that may be slowly strangling our joy? I am not an expert, but here are some ideas:
Build in time for reflection. I have a memory of lying on the coach in my family’s living room with only the light from the tree. Carols are playing in the background. I am on vacation from school so there is no homework, no piano lessons, nothing I have to do. My family is nearby. I am at peace.
Take time to pause and use our senses. Smell the balsam, hear the music, feel the crisp air, taste the peppermint, see the twinkling lights. This is a season of the senses. Your children will remember the smells and tastes of the holidays long into their adulthood.
Be bold and try something new. I know, in the season where tradition abounds, it may be hard to think of doing something different. Remember that every tradition had to start off as a new thing sometime. Maybe it is a new recipe or maybe you go to an event you’ve never been to before. Dave and I went to Kennebunkport this year for the first time to see the Atlas fireworks display. It was a wonderful evening wandering from shop to shop, watching the tree lighting and then the fireworks.
Go ahead and light those candles. I love to put candles all around the house in December. A good Yankee would be sure to put those candles away at the end of the season to be used again next year. I am unashamedly admitting that I light all those candles! Christmas Eve is my favorite time to light them. Or when I have a party. Or on the winter solstice. Anytime really is a good time to light the candles and enjoy the beauty of candlelight. So, go ahead and light the candles. You can always get more for next year.
Some of you are worried about wrapping presents. If you enjoy making them beautiful, then go for it. Turn on some music, get out all the wrapping supplies, surround yourself with beauty and enjoy the process. If this stresses you out, buy some gift bags (or reuse them from last year). Place the gift in the bag, stuff some tissue paper on top, write out the tag and you are done. Keep it simple and fun.
Watch a classic movie, make some popcorn, turn on the twinkle lights. Whatever your celebration, whatever your traditions or your new ideas, love those you are with, keep it simple and enjoy.
Love, Joy, and Peace to you and yours.