This time of the year can be incredibly special yet brings so many extra challenges. Last year I wrote about Lagom, having just enough – not too much, not too little. Finding the balance.
Recently I’ve noticed my balance has been off. On paper, it’s been largely productive but not as gratifying as it could have been. Yesterday it all caught up to me - I really felt the rush and was pretty overwhelmed.
My family celebrates Christmas and we’ve enjoyed many traditions over the years. For many, it’s a season of magic, giving, lights, music and laughter. For others, it is a season of stress, sadness and reminders of what is missing. Some very special people in our lives are going through tough times, and some are no longer with us. The holidays will be different this year in more ways than one.
And we are closing out the fiscal year, and I will personally be away the first few days of 2019, I’m already thinking I’ll somehow be “behind” when I return.
For the past several weeks, my brain has been living in the future -- planning constantly. I started with a big list, then a daily list. The 25th seemed far enough away that I just kept thinking I had plenty of time to do it all. Because of that thinking, I continued to add more things to the list and I’ve been squeezing more into each day. We’ve also attended a number of parties, dinners and holiday-themed events, so our calendar is busier than usual.
It hit me yesterday that there are 4 days remaining at home before leaving town for a long road trip to visit family. Then we’ll have 3 days at home before a vacation over New Year’s. So much to look forward to and so much to do.
What I haven’t been doing is being present.
My mom and dad are moving to a new home after the first of the year. Decorations of Christmases past have been distributed amongst my sisters and me. They’ll never be back in one collection in one place as they were when we were growing up. There is a sense of finality.
On the flip side, there are some new additions to my own collection, and I’ve made space accordingly.
This set of candleholders was one of my dad’s personal favorites, and he enjoyed tormenting my mom by re-arranging the letters whenever she left the room. My husband does that for me now.
Seeing this brings a smile, and a lump in my throat at the same time. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the laughter and all that my parents did to make Christmas such a special time for us. I’m also admittedly melancholy – not only for myself and what will no longer be, but for those who haven’t had these special memories to cherish.
For me, Christmas is so much more than a day with presents and a big meal. It is a season of giving – not only in the physical sense, but in an emotional one as well. In all my rushing around, I need to recognize that a lot of other people are out there doing the same thing. And there are so many more that are taking care of our needs and desires. UPS drivers, postal carriers, wait staff, retail employees, security officers. At a minimum, I need to take a pause – say hello, offer a smile, buy a cup of coffee, linger a little, start a conversation. I have no idea what others must be going through as I am processing my own transitions during the holiday season.
I realized by the end of the day yesterday that it’s time to cut off my list (just after I decided to write this entry!).
The lesson for me is to honor my feelings. I didn’t even see it but I’ve been a little numb lately – going through the motions and pushing them aside. I have so much gratitude for what I do have, and I’ve realized that the energy spent on “not feeling bad” has actually prevented me from feeling as good as I can.
Maybe this can be helpful for you too.
There will undoubtedly be moments in our upcoming holiday journey that will trigger a memory. I need to let myself linger in those moments, not push them aside. Then I want to look around, experience what I do have, and what I have to look forward to as new traditions begin to take shape.
Last night, I played a record album – not your typical vinyl. I picked it up on a whim over the summer for $1, and had forgotten I had it. For this, I needed to wind the Victrola for each of 6 sides to listen to the full Nutcracker suite. I can’t remember the last time I heard the whole thing and now I want to do it again. The act of stopping every few minutes to change the record was a perfect way to slow down, at least for a little while. It’s hard to believe there was a time when people gathered to simply listen to music!
And as for the rest - things are coming together nicely overall. I’m focusing my energy on connecting with colleagues, friends and family, and I’m keeping self-care in mind as much as possible. There are only a few more gifts to wrap, and I actually really enjoy the process. I’ve also found some new music to add to the mix – A Legendary Christmas will get the energy going in just the right direction!
As I live the remaining weeks of 2018, I continue to be so grateful for the Esprit de Merci community. Things aren’t always easy, and there is always work to do. I may be a solo entrepreneur, but I know I am never alone.
Happy Holidays to you and your family - I’d love to hear about your traditions – new and old!