Monday, December 21, 2015

'Tis the Season....

For some, the holiday season is a never-ending time of joy. The parties, the decorating, the music, the gifts, the food... it all inspires a near-rapturous sense of happiness.

Then there are those that absolutely loathe the holiday season... and for pretty much the same reasons.

I fall a little in between.

Don't get me wrong; I am not a Scrooge that declares Christmas to be a humbug. What I deplore is the greedy commercialism that the holidays seem to be inspire more so that peace on earth. Just ask anyone who feels the pressure to be everywhere and do everything in the space of about three weeks. And forget "goodwill towards men" if those men happen to be after the same last fill-in-the-blank gift item that you need in order to ensure a "merry Christmas" for whoever is on the gift list that ONLY wants THAT item.

I don't mind the gift shopping, the cooking, the merriment. What I don't like is the sense of almost "obligation" to fulfill every material desire, have the most perfectly decorated house, and prepare twenty different kinds of cookies and/or foods in order to do the holidays "right".

This is one of those years that the Christmas season "got away from me"... if you look at my house. We didn't do a tree this year. Or lights. Or much of any kind of decorating. Christmas cards? Pffft. Right. And between not having 1) a freezer (mine conked out two summers ago) and 2) time, I didn't do any baking. So no one is getting a platter with a dozen each of ten different kinds of cookies and loaf of cranberry pumpkin bread. Not even my own family.

What DID happen this year? Well, we finally took the time to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the community that we've always wanted to do except for never having the time to do so. Instead of preparing a twelve-course meal for a select few, we prepared a couple of potluck dishes we shared with the entire community including the local clergy and the bishop... and made a few friends in the process. Instead of spending my days off from work baking like mad and hating the cleanup, I bought a couple of packages of Christmas cookies from the bakery (the more expensive ones that probably ended up costing less than actually baking the same thing at home) and spent time visiting with the recipients and enjoying the treats with them rather than dropping them off and madly dashing off to the next obligation. And instead of worrying about making sure I'm checking off everything on everyone's wish list, I'm taking the time to focus on the true meaning of the season and making a gift of myself to others and to God. That means not giving what's left over of my good will and peace of mind after wringing myself out over the material stuff... it's giving the best of myself, whenever it's needed.

So maybe next year I'll put the tree and lights up, or maybe I'll have time and space to bake like mad. And that will be good, too. Maybe I'll make the community potluck again, or maybe I'll be somewhere else. What matters most is finding the spirit of the season no matter what I do and being a gift of peace and goodwill to whomever I meet.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Inside the cup, the text reads, "Through the years we all will be together".