So. American Thanksgiving is next week. Christmas and Chanukah are a day apart, with Chanukah starting on Christmas Eve. Yule is smack in the middle of the week. And Kwanzaa starts the day after Christmas, and runs through New Year’s Day.
But, the Cubs won the World Series, proving that Hope can triumph over Experience.
So how do we survive these coming holidaze without ending up six feet under, instead of six degrees of separation from family and friends? And how do we, miracle of miracles, pull of a holiday when families are fractured, the news is in the grip of a Drama and Crazymaking attack whatever side of the issues you find yourself, and no one, it seems, is immune from the fuss and bother?
No, really. In, two, three, four; out, two, three, four. Repeat.
Keep doing that. Breathing is kind of necessary to life. And when we’re under stress, we fall back on the fight-or-flight impulse and our breathing gets very shallow because our bodies think we need to be able to move very fast. The side effect of this is that we get less oxygen to our brains and the side effect of THAT is we lose our marbles. And loss marbles are a bitch to clean up. They get caught in the vacuum and rattle around and then our mother-in-law says something nasty about our cleaning skills and all our calm is right back out the window. (I’m speaking metaphorically; my mother-in-law is one of my favorite people on the planet.) But seriously, dude. Marbles? All over the floor like that? Come on now.
What’s needed is a big, deep, breath, and a big step back. Let’s reflect.
There is a difference between vital and urgent. Vital is our family and friends who need us at our best so that we can share the love that we were born to give. Urgent is that clickbait that comes up on your Facebook stream. Yup, that one too. So consider these suggestions for clearing out the clutter so we can hear what’s real, focus on what’s vital, and remember the most important lesson of all: at their best, the holidays are an opportunity for us to reconnect with each other and remember why we love each other. They say, “charity starts at home,” so let’s begin with ourselves and put the vital first:
- Take Facebook off your phone. You don’t need it.
- Limit your online surfing time. Set a time limit, like we used to do for television before we all became addicted to Netflix. (What, you’re not addicted to Netflix? Maybe that’s just me…)
- Pick up the phone and call your mother. Or your sister, brother, aunt, best friend from high school. Heck, make a list of five people with whom you wish you had more frequent contact and call them. If you get voicemail, tell them you miss them and wanted them to know you’re thinking about them. If they pick up, ask them how they are then then shut up. Really listen. Get out of your own drama for a few and let them have the benefit of a willing ear. You know, that willing ear we all wish we had right now. Be the change you want to see in the world. (And no, texting does not count. Open your mouth, child; tawk ta them.)
- If your loved ones are on the other side, in Heaven, with the Goddess, wherever you feel them to be, write them a letter by hand. Yes, by hand. I know, your handwriting sucks. Tough. Write it anyway. Trust me. You’ll thank me later. Your hand might be sore, but there is magic in handwriting. Tell them you wish they were here, and you love them, and whatever else is in your heart.
- Know this: today is Saturday, November 19th. In six weeks, it’ll all be behind us. A lot can change in six weeks. (Hell, a lot can change on a Tuesday, for eff sake.) Stop trying to do it all, buy it all, wrap it all, or cook it all. You can’t. Besides. What they’ll remember in years to come is your grace and poise when you hugged them and told them you loved them, no matter what, despite the marbles they left all over that messy floor. You.love.them. Remember that. Live it. Love, says Stephen Covey, is a verb. It’s not a state of being.
– E.E. Cummings
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