Ask anyone in my family---I have worked at simplifying the holidays for years. And believe me, it's felt like "work"!
No matter how many lists I make, how early I start preparing, or how organized I am, the holidays are still an over-busy time at my house. There's just always too much to do.
I'm left pondering how I can get through the season without being cranky and feeling overburdened. I tell you this because I'm imagining I'm not alone in this feeling--that there are many of us who power through this season to create a wonderful holiday for our families, but who are left feeling a tad (or more) depleted at the end of it.
One clue for how I might approach this differently came from a yoga workshop I recently took. My instructor was talking about breathing. I'll admit, I find reminders about breathing surprisingly welcome. It seems to be a skill that, even though I practice it constantly, can still be learned to do more effectively.
The instructor reminded us that our physical activity and what is going on in our bodies affects our breathing. For instance, if I am running up the stairs, my breath will become shorter and more labored.
It stands to reason then, he surmised, that our breath can likewise affect our physical sensations in our bodies. So, if I slow my breathing, I am likely to become calmer.
Ahhh. A lovely reminder during the holidays.
And, since it's unlikely I'm going to find a secret stash of extra time anywhere this month, I need to think about how I'm going to spend the time I have.
One question to ask (see last month's Diligent Joy newsletter), is what is truly essential in my life during the next few weeks? And, what is not?
Secondly, what do I need to put on the essential list that I may inadvertently have been leaving off? A daily dose of joy? Five minutes of quiet every morning and evening where I can just sit or pray or breathe?
For instance, if I want more joy in my season, then I can take a few minutes to belt out a holiday song in the car, or do a dance in the middle of doing the dishes. I can remember to hug and kiss those whom I love (with consent, of course), and to breathe. I might even need to put them on my to-do list as a reminder--or get myself an advent calendar to open each day as a reminder to do those things (they even have advent calendar apps now.....)
How about you? What is essential to your feeling joy or peace this holiday season? Is it making time for baking cookies? Letting yourself off the hook for that holiday letter you always send out? Singing a spontaneous song? Buying yourself one of those chocolate advent calendars so you can open it with the kids?
This holiday season, I encourage you to reconnect with joy and peace on a daily basis. And breathe.
Let me know how it goes!
BONUS: Recommended reading for people who are interested in a more faith-filled holiday season: All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas by Quinn Caldwell. Short readings for each day of Advent. And it's light-hearted!