I had the opportunity to watch the sun come up this morning, and took it. Just as most people are being gripped with holiday stress, I'm feeling fairly relaxed.
It's not that I have all my shopping done. Not even close.
It's not that I know what I'll be serving for any holiday stuff I may be hosting--haven't even thought about it, much less bought the groceries. Never mind the fact that I don't know what holiday stuff I might be hosting--nothing is set in stone.
It's not that I even know where my children are going to be on any particular day for the next two weeks, as the "Hang With Dad" time has not yet been decided.
It's just knowing that whatever I buy or don't buy, whatever we eat, and where-ever we eat it or when, it's enough. We are safe and alive.
I spend most of my life duking it out with somebody over something, and tend to think that if I'm not hustling, I'm failing somehow. I put a lot of pressure on myself. What's important? In my head, EVERYTHING. It comes down to where the proof is in the pudding, as they say--results, results, results. If I don't see significant progress, I figure I'm not busting my ass enough. And it's easy, at this time of year, for a lot of people feel the pressure--the kind that I put on myself during every other time of year--regarding how this holiday is going to be. Tradition. They are driven by "Christmas MUST be ______," and "If I don't buy _____ for (insert person), they won't love me anymore," and "We MUST eat _____ for Christmas Eve and _____ for Christmas Day, and we must do this in the company of Blood Relatives X, Y, and Z..."
...Or it just isn't Christmas.
Consider, if you will, a few scenarios: What if you were a soldier overseas, and you won't be anywhere near Blood Relatives X, Y, and Z, not only for Christmas, but for months before and after it? What if you are that soldier's spouse? What if Blood Relative Y passed away in 2009, and this is the first time in your entire life that you're not sitting next to them at the holiday table? What if you lost your job and are glad that there's food of any kind on the table? What if a hot meal or a warm embrace is the only gift you can afford to give?
A lot of things can happen in a year, and no Christmas will be like the last. More importantly, no Christmas will be like the one in your head, where nothing bad ever happens. Still, so many of us struggle to make things "just so..." We get an image in our brains, forged when we were children, of.a very specific set of Who, What, When, and Where's, and we run ourselves ragged on the How. While I am a fan of Always Make It Better Than Ever, I feel as if I should caution people against it at this time of year--there are so many elements at play that there is just no way to control it all, and you'll make yourself crazy trying, or wishing you could. Just let it be what it's going to be. The sun still rises and the sun still sets, and these days will go by as they will, whether or not you found time to bake 27 dozen cookies, finished putting your Christmas decorations up, or got to enjoy just one more meal in the company of somebody who has left this Earth. Don't let this time of year be about wishful thinking, or expend all of your energy trying to make a perfect holiday--there's no such thing. As long as we are alive, know that the challenges of tomorrow will require your full attention so be sure you remember to rest and enjoy, today.