Ever wish time could slow down, especially during the Holidays? Doesn’t seem like it always rushes by too quickly for you to be able to absorb all the goodness Christmas brings? Not to mention all the goodies. Every year as Halloween rolls around I brace myself for the time-warp accelerator that revs up in November and December. No matter how hard I try to slow things down and enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas, it comes and goes faster each year. And each year I find myself wishing I could go back and relive at least a few of those days.
I love it when our family is together. We don’t have to do anything special. It’s just fun having my kids home, hearing them laugh and joke around with each other, reliving childhood memories, and filling the house with music and happy noises. That’s the stuff I want to relive. Living close to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is an added bonus. When the whole extended family gets together, things are even livelier. More laughter, more stories, and, inevitably, more food.
This year, like so many other years, friends and neighbors dropped off treats. That’s when I’m really glad my college-aged boys are home. I reach my calorie limit pretty easily without the extra chocolate and cookies and cakes, so I’m glad they’re willing to pitch in and handle some of the consumption load so my wife and I don’t have to do it all. My metabolism is not what it used to be and I end up wearing those goodies like sandbags under my shirt.
In the past, I’ve felt a lot of stress around the Holidays. Shopping is not one of my favorite activities. Crowded malls with their crowded parking lots, long lines, and spending a lot of money? No thanks. In the past, I worried a lot about the whole year-end thing at work. I had to reach my goals and hit my numbers. The pressure was enormous, but I also realized that much of it was self-inflicted. I also realized that the joy of hitting the numbers was short-lived and seemed to benefit the higher-ups in the company a whole lot more than they benefitted me. So now, I do the best I can to reach those kinds of goals before Thanksgiving so that I can concentrate on giving thanks. If I don’t hit my sales goals, I shrug it off and tell myself I’ll do better next year. In the end, my real goals, I have realized, are all about my family and raising them right. That has made all the difference in the world to my well-being and attitude during what should be the happiest time of the year.
Now that the New Year has come and gone and we are motoring into another season, I like to relive Christmas in my mind at least once a day. No, not the opening of presents, per se, but the other stuff – the simple things like the smiles on my children’s faces, seeing my wife in her element wrapping presents and getting excited about giving them, and the music and the feelings it stirs inside. I felt this year, perhaps more than I have for many years, a closeness to the real meaning of Christmas and I liked it. I felt the sweet stirrings of peace as I reflected on that first Christmas over two millennia ago. In my heart, feelings of appreciation and love were close to the surface as I focused on the gift God gave us all when He sent His son to earth to save us. More than ever, my eyes saw my neighbors, my customers, and even strangers as brothers and sisters in a great big family.
Those are the moments I most want to relive. That’s what Christmas should be all about and those are the moments I’m trying to keep in the forefront of my mind as I move into 2017. I hope that my efforts to stay calm and love more will pay off in the form of more forgiveness for those who wrong me and more understanding for those who don’t understand me. In other words, I hope to follow God’s example and be willing to give of myself to make the world a better place. I can give others the same break I want them to give me. I can lend an ear to those who need to vent. I can give a smile. I can give up a few seconds on the road to allow a car into the lane in front of me. I can give the frustrated stranger, customer, or friend a kind word. For those who think differently than I do or who don’t agree with me, I can give the benefit of the doubt and extend a hand of friendship despite our differences. I might even be able to learn something new from them and at least understand another perspective.
I hope it will be for you, as well.
Maybe leaving the lights up on the house all year would serve as a reminder of this bright idea. (This is not my house, by the way. I’m not that ambitious a decorator!)