Thank God it’s over. But what just happened? Maybe now’s the best time to ponder the holiday madness, so we’re guarded and ready when it resumes (maybe July 5th this year.)
I recall driving home from work on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and as I flipped over to one of the local stations, soon realized that of course they were already into the 24/7 playing of Christmas tunes. There used to be something special about hearing my favorite holiday music on Christmas Eve; that now seems to have lost some of its magic due to the constant over playing during the weeks before.
This was an early reminder of what was coming—and of what the holidays seemed to have become: the “more is not enough” way of doing. Blaring holiday music aside, we are constantly bombarded by retailers marketing their wares–from clothes to food; movies to music. In addition, those of us employed by companies that sell a product know the pressure placed on us as the end of the year approaches. And all of this craziness generated in the spirit of the bottom line. With all of the hype and fast-paced energy swirling around, how could I not get sucked up into it all? What is this holiday spirit stuff I keep hearing about that is so cleverly attached to some marketing campaign that ultimately motivates me to lower my bank account rather than raise my awareness of the true meaning of the holidays?
And so it went. I hustled to work; I rushed home; I pulled myself up to hustle over to the mall to find gifts for all who were on my list. I then rushed from one to another of many holiday gatherings, sharing as much time as I could before moving on to the next. Somehow along the way, if I could have just paused for a moment or two to reflect on the meaning of it all–-to just breathe. To try to remember the real reason for the season and not just race through it all because this is what I am suppose to do–like checking things off a list and finally exclaiming “It’s over, I’ve made it through another one!”
As I reflect back on the early years of my childhood, I can remember vividly those feelings that surround the holiday season. In my family, we celebrated Christmas. The innocent excitement was part of the enormous anticipation of the approaching Christmas holiday. How far away it always seemed; how slow the days would go by while watching the stack of presents grow bigger and bigger under the tree, counting the ones that were just for me, while imaging all the incredible things that must be under those beautiful paper covers. Knowing that there were still days of wait and wonder until I could finally tear through the wrappings to the joy contained inside. And as the years went by, how I slowly shifted from that earlier feeling of the excitement and joy of receiving, to the joy and love of giving and the rewards I received as I watched the eyes light up to those who I give. And as I stared into the wide eyes of those I love, how it seemed to magically transport me into this place of presence-allowing me to be filled with feelings of joy and love-that illusive spirit of the holidays.
How can we reflect on this past holiday and use it as a reminder of what’s important each day of the year? How do we stay on course through the busyness that has become our lives? Could it be as simple as just taking a few moments each day to simply be–to just breathe with our eyes closed and allow ourselves to slip into The Moment. And during those momentary lapses into presence, inside that long breath, maybe if we’re lucky we might be reminded of the meaning of it all. It contains the space that allows us to appreciate all that we have and all that we are. In that space we are reminded of the blessings of our family, our friends and co-workers; our health–all those gifts we receive on a daily basis, yet seem to take for granted as they don’t come wrapped in beautiful bows or fancy paper. If we can only reach deep inside and allow that spirit that is part of each and every one of us to move forward and permeate our existence each and every day of every season. That to me is the true gift of this past holiday season–our reminders of what we all are and all have the capacity to be–giving, loving human beings.