I learned a much needed lesson during Thanksgiving. Just be. In the moment. I discovered that there is much less stress when you reside in the moment. Oh, I knew this in theory and had attempted to practice it, but never quite mastered it.
You see, the holidays – that time from Thanksgiving through Christmas has always stressed and depressed me a little bit. I get really melancholy around this time of year and the Ghost of Christmas past comes out to haunt me. I latch onto the Ghost of Christmas Future, imagining how it will be better and I totally forget to entertain the Ghost of Christmas Present. Now, I know the Dicken’s story well, and I realize that I am taking some liberties, because we all know none of the Ghost bring good news – that is, if you’re not willing to change. But, I think you get my drift. I allow the past to haunt me and I dream of a better future and I forget to live, really live in the present. And yes, sometimes I act like I am related to Scrooge.
I worry about the stress of cooking the Christmas meal and trying to fit in all the Christmas visits with family and what to buy and the list goes on and on. And before long I really just want this month long celebration to be over. It seems that everybody is trying to do too much and we forget the babe in the manger.
Did you hear me? We forget the babe in the manger. Over the past few years, little by little I have let go of some of the trappings of Christmas and have not obligated myself to so much bustle. I don’t do cards, I don’t buy lots of gifts and most of the one’s I do purchase are put in gift bags. I haven’t even put up a tree in our small seminary apartment because we are usually gone the week of Christmas and we are short on space. I don’t attend every Christmas function that is available to me – I select just a few that will feed my soul.
But, I still let the stress of the family dinner get to me. And all the travel plans and packing. I just want to rest and be. Holy. Wholly in Him.
This year is different. I’m still not doing most of the things I don’t do anymore. And I don’t feel guilty about it. If, on a whim, I decide to change it up and add a tradition or two back in, then that’s allowed, but I don’t plan it. That way if it happens then it’s a surprise and it’s an enjoyable experience. But the difference this year? I’m not going to worry about planning for the family. I’m just going to let things happen naturally and if it is less than perfect, I don’t think it will be a big deal.
That is the lesson of Thanksgiving. I didn’t do major shopping, I didn’t plan an elaborate meal. I didn’t worry about who would show up and who wouldn’t. I didn’t even do a turkey. We had Crock Pot Roast beef and some simple fixings. I made my mother’s scalloped potatoes, because she wasn’t able to do them and they were almost as good as hers (I used way too much buttah y’all).
I actually enjoyed the meal and I didn’t feel like I’d been run over by a Mac truck. I simply stood in the moments and lived and breathed and enjoyed. And I was thankful.
So, I’ve decided that Christmas dinner at my families will have the same approach. We won’t over plan, we’ll (dad) just simply shop as usual, then fix a nice comforting meal that the whole family can enjoy if they choose and if someone decides not to participate for whatever reason that will be their choice. And it will be ok.
And I will remember the baby in the manger. He will be my focus and my strength; my Hope joy, peace and love. I will not need Ghosts to remind me to live in the present.
“God Bless us everyone.”
Go in Grace,