Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hustle-free Holidays

Lights & Reflections
     In American Christmas culture it seems like one either identifies with the Grinch, or Saint Consumer Claus. For many years I chose to follow the ways of the shopping saint. As a youngster, it was deeply important that I purchased and/or made gifts for nearly everyone in my life. I would inevitably fail at the task. The fun of having matched some people with a special gift was canceled out by the disappointed of not including everyone.

I couldn't keep up (and lost interest), in finding stuff for all the people I loved. I wanted to stop the obligatory treasure hunt, but was afraid of being judged and misunderstood. So I continued for a while longer, hoping I would eventually turn into the person Santa expected me to be. The more I tried to participate in gifting, the more disconnected I felt from the beauty of the quiet season.

Practicing Presence
Eventually, not playing Christmas gifts became a celebrational decision for me. It's been over 10 years since I stopped equating love with presents. Not even the modified ways of consuming Christmas have caught my interest. When I hear things like, "Oh we don't buy gifts for everyone anymore," it still sounds like unnecessary shopping. It's been suggested that I could simply buy gift cards, subscriptions to magazines, shop online, or participate in the name drawing game. When I report that I've opted out on all the above, I'm usually met with blank and uncomfortable stares. It's an unintentional conversation stopper.

Now I find my resonance enjoying colorful lights, seasonal smells, and turning up the music. It's a great time for connecting with people, being alone, and getting outside into nature. I feel joy for those who are joyful at this time. I also feel sadness and despair for those who continue to suffer in great ways, all over the world. Heartfelt connection can also be hard felt. There seems to be an abundance of opportunity to feel it all. Making the silent nights, the most holy nights, for letting it all settle in.

Birthday Suit Stocking
Lately I've been wondering if my birthdate has anything to do with the kicking and screaming I sometimes feel like doing during the holidays? After joining the world on Christmas Eve, I was put into a stocking the nurses made, and sent home. The gift of being alive was my first and greatest present, but I'm sure it must have involved some kicking and crying.

I often receive condolences regarding my birth date. When required to show someone my driver's license, it's frequently  followed by that familiar head shake. "What a bummer." "You must have gotten so ripped off."  Sometimes I feel obligated to defend my inner-child, by letting them know about my loving and generous family. Though these corrections never seem to register. "Still, that sucks having your birthday on Christmas!" In reality, it was as if my holidays were on steroids. Two presents, a cake, and birthday singing! It doesn't matter. Somehow, "You must have gotten screwed," never fails to be uttered in some form or another. Maybe folks are just trying to comfort me? Do they really think that receiving the maximum number of presents is the whole point of holiday enjoyment? If so, I should probably be the one doing the consoling. Thankfully, I have developed a good sense of humor around all of these "poor you" assumptions.
Looking outside, I see the snow falling, and feel happy that this is enough. I'm grateful for the people in my life, everyday experiences, access to clean food and water, the ability to get adequate sleep, creating and promoting health and find daily inspiration from mother nature. May we all find time to celebrate the light within ourselves, and each other. Making room for all who celebrate this time of year, in all the different ways.

~May we all live in presence~