As we enter into this sacred time of year, regardless of your religious orientation, it is a time of family stress and demands that sometimes strip the beauty of this season from our hands. I know that not only myself, but family and friends alike, struggle with the demands of this time of year. More demanding and stressful, however, are the demands that we place on ourselves where our families are concerned. Even if your family experience is filled with joy and love, holidays bring out the "to do" list in a way that is exponentially more intense than other times of the year.
It has taken me a long time to recognize that most of the stress I feel is self-imposed. The stress that plays across my mind is like a relentless ticker tape, fooling me into believing that my perceptions are the only perceptions. It's been the story I tell myself about what is happening that sucks the energy out of my heart and soul at a time when I need all the energy I can gather!! I have been planning our Christmases for almost 40 years (yikes!!!) and regardless of how I stress, how homesick I have been or how much I have missed my kids, every holiday happens regardless of how I stress about it. "This too shall pass" is not just an axiom, it is fact. If I have learned anything about the quality of this time of year, it is dependent upon my personal perception. The sacredness of my life has everything to do with how I show up, mentally and emotionally.
St. Paul wrote in Corinthians that "when I was a child, I spoke and acted as a child but when I became an adult, I gave up childish things." The sacredness of this time of year teaches me that it is a time of endings and the seedlings of new beginnings. It is a time to be present, to be loving and patient...not only with my family who I love more than my life but with the stranger who is stressed and making their way through the freeways and lines of the holiday madness. For all the gifts we shop for, for all the things we think we need or that we buy for someone else, there is no greater gift than the present of our presence! With that thought, we should all put a big bow around our shoulders and show up for our family in ways that matter. I can think of no better gift that I would like to see under my tree!