Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pass the Turkey Please!

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude." ~ E.P. Powell

Here we go! The holidays have descended upon us. Here in New England many of us have been so busy recovering from the great October Nor'easter that we didn't realize all of a sudden, it was Thanksgiving week.

Life gets tricky this time of year. For about six weeks, we are thrown into social situations with family that we may or may not get along with. Typical family drama that we deal with all the other days of the year can intensify. New relationships and families may have been formed in the previous year which means that we have to reexamine our previous traditions and how we choose to spend our precious holiday time. Sometimes we are so busy running from one holiday event to another that we can't wait to get back to our normal routine because our stress levels are so high.

I enjoy the holidays now which has not always been the case. I loved this time of year when I was a child but once I entered my twenties and thirties, I found myself getting wrapped up in the task aspect of the holidays. The priority became getting everything on my list done; the shopping, the cooking, putting up the tree. I became so focused on the getting things done that I wasn't savoring the activities themselves.  I lost sight of what was really important. Sound familiar? Over the past two years or so, I have finally found some sort of balance between doing what I HAVE to do and and genuinely celebrating the spirit of the season. During the holiday season, I make sure to stop and remember what it is truly about for me and for Thanksgiving that means gratitude and family. At Christmas it means Jesus and love. Oh yeah, and food too...for both! I will admit, it is still a hard balance at times, but at least now I am more aware.

So what can we do to survive from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day? Well, I have found that planning is helpful so that not everything is left to the last minute. While I am plannin, I carefully look at my schedule to make sure I don't book too many events in one week. I make sure to avoid feeling like I am running a marathon!

I prioritize. I used to put so much pressure on myself to do all the proper things for Christmas like baking, decorating, fulfilling church obligations, sending out Christmas cards, etc. OK seriously, that is ridiculous. I was so burnt out by Christmas Eve that I was almost too tired to enjoy the evening. Now I take into account what else is going on in my life at the moment, how much time I have, my health status and the like when I am deciding what to do. I have decided that for example in regards to Christmas, my priorities are church activities, putting up a tree, shopping for Christmas presents, and spending time with my family. If I don't have the time and energy to bake or do Christmas cards, it doesn't get done. I have yet to get a complaint the last two years from anyone about not getting a Christmas card so....

I make a huge effort during the holiday season to make sure I have time for myself to reflect on the season and what it means to me. I participate in at least one or two volunteer activities that do something to help people less fortunate or people who may be having difficulties during the holidays that particular year. In doing that, it grounds me and fills my spirit in a way that writing out Christmas cards just doesn't do for me. Isn't that what the holidays are all about?

My hope for all my readers this Thanksgiving is that as you pass the turkey this year, you take a moment to not only give thanks, but to think about what types of steps you want to take in order to get through this upcoming holiday season with some mindfulness and some peace.

Photo: Courtesy of Google Images

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