‘Tis the season for hustle and bustle, for stress and excess. Meanwhile, the natural world quiets, slows down, and turns inward. Meanwhile, bears and bugs hibernate, leaves fall from trees in a not-so-subtle suggestion to let go of that which no longer serves. Meanwhile, our busy bodies fight against their own natural urges.
There are so many ways in which we live out of step with the world that surrounds us, but perhaps there’s no time when the opposition is so apparent as the holiday season. We race to and fro while seeds lie dormant beneath the earth. We expend valuable energy and resources while all other species are in a state of conservation. We succumb to the expectations of others rather than prioritizing what we need to survive and thrive.
And then we wonder, where is the joy? And then we worry, when all this magic we’re creating leaves us in debt, emotionally and financially. And then we wait, in frantic anticipation, for this season to pass us by and life to slow down again.
But what if we listened to our own bodies, to the quiet whisper of our breath and the soft sigh of our bones? What if we heard the weariness within and answered with acceptance? What if we gave ourselves the gifts we deserve? Rest, peace, love. Honoring our own wants and needs. Maybe it’s replacing a holiday party with a quiet movie at home, swapping a gift exchange for more time together, or opting out of all the local kids’ festivities and opting instead for baking cookies and drinking cocoa around the campfire.
Then would we find the joy?
Let’s find the joy in shrugging off our own and others’ expectations. In slowing down and appreciating the simplicity. Maybe you didn’t get your house decked with Christmas lights, but you can go outside and gaze upward at a twinkling sky. Perhaps you can’t afford to give your children the latest and greatest toys, but you can afford to give them your time and attention, which is all they really want anyway. So what if you didn’t mail Christmas cards to a hundred people, just choose one close friend from afar to call and have a real conversation.
In giving to ourselves as much as we give to everyone else, and accepting another person’s choice to do the same, we find joy. In respecting our natural needs for rest and rejuvenation, we find peace. In devoting our limited time and attention to the few people who matter most, we find love. And isn’t that what this season is all about?