Ho ho ho—the holidays are here! The time of the year when stress is high, tempers are short and a glazed sense of panic shines in the eyes of hurried shoppers. But, wait! Rewind: This isn’t what I want to focus on. No, I want to see past the harried shoppers and feel the joy of the season in my heart, see the wonderment in the eyes of children, and remember that true gifts of the holiday do not come wrapped in shiny paper and sit under the Christmas tree (although I do like those as well!). I see the word PEACE written on so many holiday cards, and it is a beautiful reminder of the true spirit of the holidays. Peace; that’s my wish and what I’ve decided to focus on and work to create in my life this holiday season.
We all know life can be stressful at times. Sitting through an hour of the nightly news is about enough to send me over the edge (though I doubt creating a sense of peace and calm is what the producers are aiming for). Peace may not be evident all around us, but it can be present and cultivated within us. Peace be with you is an often-heard greeting in many church pews. What a lovely wish to exchange with those we care about! Isn’t a sense of peace, contentment, and fulfillment what we all truly long for? I know that when I’m thinking about the upcoming holidays and making my list and checking it twice, nowhere on the list do the words stressed, cranky, overwhelmed or frustrated appear. No, if I made a list of my favorite holiday sentiments they would be joy, peace, love, and hope. I love these words and don’t think they should be reserved only for cards during the holidays but words we choose to focus on all year long in our thoughts and through our actions. Why save the good stuff for the end of the year, when it gets sandwiched in between frantic last minute gift buying and the unfortunate return lines that follow the holidays? When we focus on bringing peace and joy into our lives, images of mobs at the mall somehow seem to disappear.
I’m committing, right here and now, to focus on bringing peace into my holidays this year. Because I have spinal surgery scheduled for December 14th, I’ve been forced to do two things: 1) focus only on those things that are very important to me; and 2) simplify. Yes, it means getting the shopping done early and perhaps living in the world of “good enough.” Perfection may have to slip from my vocabulary and my life to make room for peace and joy. But hey, if something has to go, I’m thinking perfectionism might be just the thing to cross off the list. After all, who cares if there are ornaments on the tree or the gifts are perfectly wrapped? I don’t remember either of those things bringing peace and joy to my life! When I think of coming home from the hospital and recuperating on Christmas, I just want things to be simple. I don’t want my family to have to fuss with putting away a lot of Christmas ornaments and decorations. I want this to be a quieter time of watching movies with happy endings and sitting around in our PJ’s chatting and drinking hot chocolate by the fire. Eliminating unnecessary stress from the holidays feels right and peaceful.
And so, this year, I’m going to focus on peace and joy. In my holiday of “good enough,” your gift may not be expertly wrapped and a card may not come in the mail, but if you are in my neighborhood, you’re more than welcome to drop by for a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy a bit of peace amidst the holiday madness. PJ’s optional!