It’s December 1st, for crying out loud! And it should be a time of winding down. Does it feel to you like a time of winding down? No, not to me either. More like a time of “OMG, the year’s almost over, and look at all this stuff I need to get done before it is!” But it is a time of waning. The days are waning shorter, we’re already in the period of greatest darkness, which is inherently a slower, quieter time. And though we, as a culture, seem to have decided to fill what should be our slowing down time with hustle-bustle holidays, in a lot of ways, we can embrace the real energy of the season. The energy of slowing, of easing, of reflecting.
I have as much to do as anyone before the holidays. My tree isn’t yet up, decorations aren’t quite finished, shopping isn’t quite done (maybe half). I have a short-short (60 pages or so) prequel to write and a new proposal to tweak a bit over the next week or so. And then I need to begin on the next book, and somehow have it finished by February.
And yet, I’m easing. No, I am not making this up. Yes, you can find some ease too. Here are my tips for easing on down the holiday road. (See how I worked two songs into line? I know, clever, right? Thank you.)
Tips for finding time to bask in December:
1. Find a short (10 minute) guided meditation, or make your own instrumental play list that does it for you,
and put it on the computer, smartphone or tablet that’s closest to you at work. Keep a good set of headphones nearby as well. Then, when you have a short break, pop those headphones on and hit play. Block out the world and give yourself the gift of ten minutes of bliss.
2. Do as much of your shopping online as you possibly can. I do almost all of it that way. Feet up, warm cocoa mug in my hands, wrapped in my Snuggy cocoon, click, click, done. (That’s another song, sort of.)
3. Treat your body like the temple it is by exercising it. Nothing gets rid of stress like a brisk walk/run/skip/jog outdoors. When you can’t get out, hit the treadmill inside. Or pop in a video and dance to the oldies. No, mall walking doesn’t count. It’s stress-full, not stress-free.
4. Wrap gifts a few a day, so you don’t have an all out wrapping frenzy at the end.
5. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get all out of sorts with people who can’t comply with your schedule of holiday gatherings. And do not get all out of sorts with yourself for not being able to comply with all of theirs. Go where you can, stay until you feel like leaving, leak love from every pore, and no one will be mad at you. (And if anyone is, do not let it bother you.)
5. Grab an extra box of chocolates or basket of fruit for emergency gifts. If you don’t need them, you can use them yourself, but if you do, boy will you be glad you have them!
6. Give yourself permission to be as giddy as a kid. Catch that holiday spirit. Wear your Santa hat or reindeer antlers to the grocery store. Play the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas CD in your car and sing along at the top of your lungs. You cannot be stressed out while shouting “Run Run Reindeer!” along with Animal. Can you?
Relax. It doesn’t have to be perfect, never has been, never will be. It’s just supposed to be fun. Strive for that, not perfection and you’ll enjoy your holidays so much more!
Most of all, let yourself ease into the flow of the rhythms of winter. Go to bed earlier. Snuggle more. Rest more. Celebrate more. Relish more. Enjoy more. Love more.
Remember, no matter your faith, this season is about the promise that even in the midst of what seems to be darkness and death, light and life are being reborn. That promise will never be broken. So relax in the knowing of it, and let that knowing warm your heart.