A few days ago, early, early in the morning, just as I was beginning to even realize that yes, I was awake, it hit me like a ton of bricks...."Holy S**T - I've got to get busy." My brain started screaming, "GET UP NOW! There's so much to do. You will NEVER get it all done." My brain was in full panic mode one minute and then, waving the white flag the next, "You might as well just lay here. You're screwed anyway. It's too late to do it all and you're just a a big old failure!"
Yes, it's here. THAT time of year. The Holiday Season. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and Advent is beginning.
Time to deck the halls, prepare the feast(s), give time and money to those less fortunate and, above all, spend meaningful, quality time with friends and family! (And oh yeah, I'm a Christian so I need to figure out how to squeeze some time in with G-O-D too.)
Here's what the dictionary has to say about the word "holiday."
The word holiday derived from the notion of "Holy Day", and gradually evolved to its current form. The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg. The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school...
I don't know about you but when I think of a holiday, the words rest and relaxtion rarely come up for me.
I love the holiday season...I love being with family, I love decorating our home and I love cooking special meals. I even love choosing special gifts. Most of my friends say they love it too.
There is a problem though. How do we do all of these extra things to make the holidays "special" when our normal, everyday lives often feel so busy.....so full....so stressful?
Perhaps I could stop asking you and focus on asking myself. "How do I do it?" And the answer to that is, "Not very well."
Entering into spiritual direction and spending a year of intentional contemplative living has completely transformed me. Instead of poking Michael in the ribs, this year I waited for him to wake up on his own...before launching into the screeching, frantic litany that has become as much a tradition this time of year as the sweet potato casserole ....."I CANNOT do this alone. You HAVE to help me." And there must have been an echo in the room, because the same voice that just a few moments before been yelling at me was now urgently shouting at a bewildered and half asleep Michael, "GET UP NOW! There's so much to do!"
It's totally unfair because Michael is completely willing to do anything I ask. He really pitches in and does a great deal of the work in our home. I understand why it hurts his feelings when I start screeching like that. Especially if he is still half asleep. Honey, if you are reading this, I'm sorry.
I don't have an easy answer for myself and I sure don't for any of you. If you have suggestions, do us all a favor and post them in the comment section. I am very organized. I've read all the books AND implemented many of the suggestions I found in them. I've cut back. I've simplified.
The fact is, this time of year, everyone wants in on the fun...there are school parties, team parties, office parties, bookclub parties, and neighborhood parties. If you are part of any sort of community, odds are there will be a party. And you will have to bring a dish. And maybe a Secret Santa gift.
There are holiday sights to see, special plays and music concerts, dance recitals and holiday sports tournaments to attend. There are ministries to participate in that are meaningful and important,especially this time of year.
Anyway you slice it, this is a busy time of year. The only option we have then is to how we choose to respond.
You know how trees sometimes grow tall and wide and beautiful but in doing so, they begin to get in the way of powerlines? Often, without thought for aesthetics or even the longterm health of the tree, utility companies will hastily whack off a tree top. Or a whole side of a tree...leaving in their thoughtless wake scarred and sometimes fatally wounded trees. I wish we would respect the trees.
One year, in an overreaction to the stress in my life, I did that to our Christmas celebration. I pruned it back so hard that it was nearly unrecognizable. That didn't work any better than the previous years of living for two months on caffeinne, alchohol and 3 hours of sleep, all to ensure a "perfect" holiday.
On the other hand, those lovely, beautiful trees can get in the way of the powerlines and, when the days of wind and snow and ice are upon us, those trees can lose branches or even topple over...they can damage the powerlines...leaving us without light. Leaving us in the cold. We must respect the power lines too.
It's a delicate balance. We could do our best to stay mindful. We could do our best to honor the needs of our bodies...for rest, for sleep, for healthy food. We could do our best to carve out silent, still quiet moments in the midst of loud, chaotic, joyful busy-ness, wherever we can.
I will pray for you this joyful, stressful, meaningful, hectic, spirit filled, busy holiday season.
I ask that you pray for me as well. (And Michael.)