Continuing to Celebrate the Season...
Dr. Nadine’s Thoughts:
Here I sit, writing as I’m tucked under my covers, not quite one week from Thanksgiving. My kitty can’t figure out what this computer thing is in my lap; she’s wondering whether it’s a toy or a new thing to walk on. In any event, she knows it’s occupying my attention, as she’s grabbing my fingers to entreat me to pet her head instead of typing. I’m taking this time to recall the weekend I just spent with my family—the extended version—cousins and in-laws, aunties and sibs. It’s our tradition to gather in the afternoon on Black Friday and converge on the TJ Maxx on the east side of the city. We literally spend hours there, beginning the official Christmas shopping season. We shop for each other, family members, the kids, the friends in our lives, and of course, we throw in a few things for ourselves. We have “show and tell” with each other, asking everybody’s opinion about this or that item; would it look good on so-and-so, is it stylish, is it frivolous, does it fill a wardrobe gap, etc…? It’s a wonderful bonding time, it’s entertaining and it jump-starts our next few weeks of looking, buying, sighing, ordering, moaning and wrapping.
I’m very aware that we just celebrated Thanksgiving, a time of harvest and abundance. And here we are, thrown headlong into a season of spending. If we’re not careful, it can become a season of lack, of feeling like there’s not enough. Not enough time, not enough energy, not enough money, not enough creative ideas, not enough stamina…We can feel overwhelmed by deficit instead of by the joy of giving and sharing. The spirit of the season can get lost in the trappings of the season.
So now is the time to reflect on what we really want to be important in the upcoming weeks. Remember--what’s important is not always what’s pressing. It becomes imperative to think now about what you want December to be, so that what’s pressing doesn’t mask those things that are important to you. Will you choose to invest your time buying stuff for people, or rather, giving your time to them? Would you rather clean your house for the company coming over or watch a Christmas movie with your Dear Ones snuggled on the sofa with you?
Why not take a tiny “time out”? Do something novel. Take yourself on a creative excursion to window shop and enjoy the decorations. Make it inexpensive. Pamper yourself. Sit. Think. Write down your blessings, your priorities. Speaking them out loud brings them to life. Let those priorities guide and direct you; let them be your compass in the chaos. Let them remind you that the harvest of blessings and abundance of love doesn’t disappear along with the Thanksgiving turkey.
Dr. Zan’s Reflections:
Indeed, I am still basking in the glow of the Thanksgiving holiday as I write. Dr. Nadine’s invitation to take a “time out” to make the coming weeks as meaningful as possible resonates with me in this moment. Having just taken my daughter to the airport so that she can get back to her own work and residence, I can’t help but reflect on my own mother’s expressions of sadness every time we parted. I, like my daughter, moved many states away from my family of origin when I started my career. And believe me, I fully understand my mother’s reaction, given my many years of being a mother and an aunt myself -- frequently being in the position of saying “good-bye” to those young ones who seem they should still be toddling about rather than setting the world on fire, in a positive way. As the adults in the family, we truly do work toward the ominous goal of rendering ourselves unnecessary in the lives of the children, and yet, if we are fortunate, those adult kids continue to come around, simply because they love us and we love them. We share a bond that spans distance and time.
For many years, I shared my mother’s dismay when the time for separation came. I bemoaned the fact that the time anticipating the visit had been so long and that the moments of in-person togetherness had escaped all too fast. There was so much more I wanted to say, so many more collaborative activities I wanted to do, so much more precious time I wanted to savor. While all of those feelings remain true, today I choose to focus on the gratitude for the moments that have been shared and to remind myself that they were and are just as they have needed to be. If I spend my energy whining about how quickly the holiday went or how I wish I could have more, then I am taking away from the tub of joy that is right here, warmly waiting for me to bask in it. My joy is here, and I choose the basking!
Whether or not you celebrate a holiday that is of your own religious or cultural origin, most of us in this country find something to celebrate during these weeks that end the calendar year. Holiday celebration, whether now or at a different time of year, can naturally ramp up our sense of responsibility, duty, and therefore, our stress levels. We can choose to focus on the work to be done to create something meaningful and magical, and if that brings you joy, then please embrace it! However, we can also choose to focus on the joyful aspects of holidays that are not work or stress inducing. We can observe and savor the light. We can relish beauty. Most of all, we can give of ourselves and bask in love. Be love. Find love. Offer love.
I leave you with a quote from Cory Booker, “Give more than is expected, love more than seems wise, serve more than seems necessary, and help more than is asked.” What a lovely guide as we journey through the holiday season.