This morning I left my boys at home briefly to continue building their Lego. I walked the dog, alone as my husband was working this year. I found myself aware of the quiet and realized how much I love walking in the morning on Christmas. The shops are closed, the roads are mainly void of traffic. It’s a level of quiet we rarely experience in city. I found it calming and pleasant. It reminded me of the importance of moving slowly and mindfully.
In those same pleasant moments I was also acutely aware that this is not a calm morning for everyone. There are people feeling very alone. They may be solo this morning, or surrounded by friends and family;but they carry struggles nonetheless that have them feeling alone. Some surrounded by family, maybe wishing they weren’t. Others would give anything to be with a particular loved one. Christmas does not miraculously heal all the emotional strife of human relationships. Sometimes it creates an opportunity to set it all aside for a while, other times it just makes us all the more aware of what we wish was different.
My thoughts wandered with compassion and respect this morning, to the people for whom Christmas is not a tradition or part of their belief system. The folks who are patiently moving through this time so that those of us who do celebrate can appreciate it. I wonder how we could do more to honor other religious holidays and celebrations too.
I am thinking of all those who have set aside, or are powering through tough emotions. Those who are struggling, with – or without family. I am thinking of those who are missing loved ones, and others who would like nothing more than to celebrate but haven’t the money or the community to make it happen. This is not pity, nor sadness. This is respect for the strength it takes. I feel a tremendous respect.
We forget sometimes. So ‘wrapped up’ by all the wrappings and trappings of the season that we fail to honor the strength in the struggles. We seem to think that looking at the hard stuff tarnishes the beauty. We turn away from what is hard to see.
This morning I am reminded that there are all sorts of ways to enjoy a day. This one, and the other 364. I shouldn’t wait for Christmas morning to drink coffee and play lego, or to walk the dog in the wee quiet hours. I am reminded that being alone with my children is not alone. That missing the rest of my family is not sad. I love and am loved. There is someone to miss and be missed by. As I think of those who are hurting, I feel compassion. This too should be celebrated. Compassion is where it all began isn’t it? NO matter your belief system, compassion is the foundation. Compassion is what we should be handing out on the street corners every day of our lives! I see this day as a reminder of the way I want to move through life. Aware, gentle, compassionate, respectful.
Christmas has been made into a time of gift giving and large meals. What it started out as was a celebration of love and generosity. Generosity of SPIRIT – not financial or material wealth. The spirit of Christmas is not found under a tree. It is found in the heart of every person who chooses love, chooses patience, chooses to see beauty. It is in the time spent, thinking about and considering what would bring joy to the people we love. The spirit is in voices of all people no matter their religious or cultural belief. No matter how they greet you – but when they greet you. Be it a smile and a nod, a “Good Morning”, “Happy Holiday”, “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hanukkah”… The spirit is not about this one morning – it is all around us as we prepare and lead into this day.
Dec 25th is a lot of things, to a lot of people, including just another day of the year. It’s okay for it to be all of those things, or none of them! Personally I think it’s deepest value is the invitation to think about our blessings, struggles and strengths. I want my new tradition to be about making it a day of mindful reflection, about what life CAN be and IS for us all. The variety of experience, the complexity of our relationships. LIFE.
Wishing you a day of strength, love, forgiveness, peace, gratitude, quiet…whatever it is you need most today. I wish it upon you. I wish it for you today and every day.