A couple of evenings ago, as I hustled in to the gym a few minutes late for workout after a busy work day with visions of last minute holiday to do’s dancing in my head, I said to my coworker and workout partner “You know what I’m most looking forward to about the holiday? Sitting around in my jammies doing nothing.”
Ok, in all honesty, that’s not 100% true. There are a lot of other things I look forward to as well. But at that moment, stopping and relaxing was in the top 3. Let’s face it R.W.’s, no matter what holiday you celebrate around this time of year, any and all preparations become “extra stuff” on top of our already busy days. And most of it lands on us.
I do realize that those of us who celebrate Christmas do tend to go a wee bit overboard. I’m thinking we should take some lessons from our friends who are halfway through their Hanukkah celebrations. They seem to have it all figured out with low levels of stress. “8 days? Pfft, we got this.”
I also realize that I bring this all on myself. All of the decorating, baking, gift shopping, wrapping, card sending, gatherings – I could scale back. Someday I will. Someday we will downsize to a smaller house. Someday I won’t have the energy level I do now. Some years, like in the past, finances will require cutting back. But for now I’m all in. Because, as exhausted as I may be, I love doing it. One recent evening, we were sitting by the tree with my son’s girlfriend giving her a couple of gifts before she traveled out of town to visit family. She asked me if Christmas was my favorite holiday and time of year. My son jumped in with a response: “of course it is, just look around!” Ok, so I guess it’s pretty obvious I’m kind of into it.
All of the hustle and bustle preparations are all part of the holiday for me. Sparkling lights, cookies in the oven, holiday music, even last-minute gift wrapping all helps build a sense of joy and anticipation. It is all worth it to see a smile on someone’s face, getting wrapped up in a warm hug, adding some joy to the day, sharing good food (albeit often unhealthy), and especially – for me – experiencing the beauty and peace of candle-filled church services.
For those of us who go barreling through the season running on hot cocoa and adrenaline, it’s important to remember that this is not a happy nor easy time of year for many. Those battling illness, loneliness, poverty, loss of loved ones, all struggle with the Hallmark-cheer that probably feels bombarding. Add in a whopper of a storm hitting much of the country and the festive positivity in the air can dissipate quickly. Sometimes the most important “extra” we can add to our list is stopping by to pay a visit, picking up the phone to check in, or just plain slowing down enough to be there for someone having a tough time.
Which brings me back to the slowing down thing. It is very true that one of my most favorite things of all about holiday time is to just “be”. To think about what the holiday is all about, to stop and gaze at the beauty around us, to stop rushing and doing… on Christmas day, if we are lucky enough to have a house full of people – or even just a couple of us – I like to take moments to just stop, listen and watch. To appreciate what is happening. And yes, a small part of that is being happy and proud of the efforts taken to make it all extra special. Sure, the Grinch found out that Christmas would come no matter what…. But putting extra sparkle into it is really rewarding.
So to my festive R.W. soul sisters out there, my wish for you all is that you are able to slow down. Breathe. Soak in the atmosphere. Feel some peace. Stay in your jammies a little longer. Take the time to think about what your holiday means to you. Have a cup o’ cocoa. (Your choice if you add a bit of Bailey’s.) Make a connection with someone and feel the love. You’ve weaved your magic, time to relax and enjoy it.
Happy Holidays to you all – whether you’ve followed my blog for years, or are reading this Real Women post for the very first time, I appreciate you and wish you warmth, peace and holiday enchantment.