Monday, December 3, 2012

Let Go of the Cookie Cutter Christmas

December begins, and so do the dreaded words, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Relax. What hasn’t been done so far probably wasn’t that crucial. And what remains that is vital can be done more happily with a few of the following ideas.

Savor the Season. Slow down, today, even right now. Delight in the simple pleasures—sparkling lights, annoyingly familiar carols, the fifth plate of gift cookies. These come once a year and remind us to celebrate the season. Appreciate the unexpected and perhaps undesired. Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard shares in Families Who Laugh…Last that one year she found her young daughter in the bathroom in the midst of hundreds of white paper pieces literally everywhere. Confused and in mother mode, Janene told her daughter to clean up the mess. Later, Janene understood after receiving a special Christmas gift—a homemade snow globe.

Can anyone say “mother guilt”?

So rejoice in what comes your way daily, especially the plentiful opportunities to lift someone's load. The other day while at breakfast with a friend we noticed a lady leaning on a walker. We offered to help with her packages and she accepted. In those few minutes I felt a tangible joy from simply being available to help another. These are the experiences that make Christmas fulfilling.

Don't force the celebration. So the cookies burned, or the person bringing the main dish didn't get the message. Live the dream anyway!  Let down and be part of the experience without choreographing a superficially successful one. My husband and I host a company party at Christmas time. Because some of his floor installation crews speak a limited amount of English, I’ve worried about everyone enjoying the evening. However, this year I promised myself to stop stressing and just enjoy the people, even if it meant some awkward silence. And it was amazing. I was able to talk with a woman who had suffered polio as a child and now walked with a crutch. She also volunteered for several organizations and was studying filmmaking at school. Currently, a few of her documentary films on homelessness and domestic violence were being shown in homeless shelters. What a fabulous connection we enjoyed. So let go of being the Stressed Out Happy Fairy (i.e., “Is everybody happy?”) and instead, be in the moment. 

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Watching the play "A Christmas Carol" with my son, I thought of a recent comment on the story. That even though Scrooge had had a change of heart—as incredible as it was—the other people in his life didn't know about the change of heart and still chose to frankly forgive him. The Cratchett's, Scrooge’s nephew and wife, had no idea of the three life-changing visits, but they welcomed his change with open arms.
We can do that, too. Even when a family member hasn't experienced a “mighty change of heart,” that's okay. We can still let go of being irked at their choices and choose to love them for this season. Instead of becoming angry this year, try a quick smile or change the conversation. Or plan ahead for predictable choices (i.e. Uncle Bob is always late, Aunt Midge is typically bossy). We can let Aunt Midge decorate the table as she likes—what does it matter in the long run? Just for now, we can open our arms and hearts without pre-conceived prejudices, and simply let people be.

As Christmas Day approaches, let’s give ourselves permission to let go of the cookie cutter Christmas. Instead, revel in the carols, sample the baked goods, and appreciate the unexpected but profound before us.

For FREE Simplify & Savor the Season podcasts, go here or to Scroll down to receive all four podcasts.

1 comment:

  1. I love your comments, Connie....Everyone needs to read this-- including me. With the experience I have had in all of my 53 years--I have SLOWLY learned what you have written in a short, concise post....