It is the day after Thanksgiving and the Christmas tree and all the decorations are up. The labeled holiday decoration containers are put back up into the attic. A few presents are wrapped and under the tree. The remaining gift shopping and holiday to do’s are scheduled on the calendar with flexible timeframes to ensure most everything is done before the kiddos are out for winter break on December 21st. Lists are made, travel plans are complete, and teacher gifts are purchased. All is going according to plan except…that was last year.
This year, the day after Thanksgiving we were still at my parents after deciding to stay another day to spend time with family. The Christmas tree was not purchased until one week after Thanksgiving after the entire family recovered from an upper respiratory virus that caused the kids to miss at least two days of school each. The outdoor family cat (who had disappeared for two weeks before Thanksgiving) was recovering in the house for a week after a ten day stay at the animal hospital due to a near-death experience.
Currently, the containers with tree lights and ornaments still sit in the front hall from the first attempt at beginning the decorating process with the kids. The bottom half of the tree is still dark after two strings of lights that decided to go out at the top and middle of the tree were finally repaired. The remaining containers of decorations have yet to come down from the attic. And last but not least, we are getting back to normal since my parents left on Monday after coming to stay with us as I recovered from outpatient surgery the Friday before. I have not done any of my Christmas to do’s and I now have eight days before the kids are out of school on break.
I normally would be a frantic person this time of the year even if everything was going according to my plan. My husband always works with Santa on a couple of the kids items on their lists so I can focus on other things. I have already simplified my Christmas by not sending out cards for the last several years, and yet I would still be totally consumed with the remaining lists and to do’s saying to myself that I can relax when it all gets done. Well, a funny thing happened when I was forced to slow down this year. I found peace in NOT having it done. I found peace in the present moment.
Those six days when the virus went through the whole family, we spent time together and took care of each other. We laughed through moments of misery and were grateful for being able to feel good again.
The four days after my surgery brought more of the same. As I tried to go take a nap during my recovery from surgery instead of getting upset because it was too loud to sleep, I listened to the sounds in my house. The laughter, the talking, the running up the stairs…I don’t think I have ever truly appreciated that sound! And the smell of the comforting aroma of my Mom’s homemade chicken rice soup! I could never duplicate that on my own. When I was forced to be still, my senses overflowed with what life is all about.
This Christmas season simplify your to do lists, take time to be still and give yourself the gift of “presence” this year.