The other night, I was talking to one of my dear friends who is a mom with a teenager. We were talking about the holiday season. “Lisa, isn’t it awesome to have a three year old at Christmas?! Everything is magical!” She said.
I stopped. Earlier that day, we had been hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree, which, now-a-days is a several day “process.” (Notice now I see it as a “process”? We’ll get to that!) My three year old wanted to stand and rock on the arm of the Lazy Boy chair so she could reach the tippy-top of the tree. My six year old son was half dancing to Christmas music, half doing karate moves in our small, cozy front room as he put up ornaments wherever his moves took him. And my husband?! Totally serene. There were a few piles of ornaments all over the floor and Brian was completely ok with it.
I sat there – pissed.
“Brian!” I said, “This is so unorganized and chaotic!” I balked.
“What?! It’s fine, Lisa,” He said, in his totally-at-peace tone of voice which, for those of you who know Brian, is his “I should’ve been a Zen monk on a mountain top or maybe I’ve been one in a past life” way of being. Which
just infuriated me even more.
“Watch her! She’s going to fall!” I continued my balking.
“She’s got it, Lis.”
“Someone’s going to step on all these ornaments!”
“It’s ok, Lis. Really. It is.”
Brian moved some of the piles closer to him and moved them out of my way.
And then I felt it. A wave of several emotions. Shame came crashing inside my ribs. I could tell that this was perfect for Brian – the “chaos”, the “going with the flow”, the “mess”, the “just being here” – all before I came in. He loves decorating the tree and every year, I go into stress mode doing it. He wants and asks for so little. He goes with my flow. But I could tell he just wanted to let this moment of all for us together…be. Be as it is. Be light-hearted. I saw how there was magic before I arrived, how the kiddos were sooooo in their element, and how everything was, in fact, calm – before I came in.
Back to my girlfriend on the phone. “Magical?” I thought, as my girlfriend who is such a gem – a fellow yogini, Capricorn, deep soul and big heart, went on to tell me her version of how three year olds see Christmas – the magic, the lights, the mystery, the warmth, the textures, the scents, the activities. I sat there on the phone now thinking about how my three year old daughter saw decorating the tree:
Her face was soft, eyes focused and full as she looked at, savored, and lingered with each ornament – how it shined, how it felt in her hands, the care she used when she handled the fragile ones.
I thought about how she’s been this holiday season. Yes, there will be moments of big excitement, I’m sure. But I’m not talking about the over-the-top holiday light shows or going to FAO Schwartz in New York (some day, but not this year). I’m noticing now the quieter side of awe, the deeper sense of delight, the “I’m fully in this” posture, the deep look of “this is amazing.”
~ The gleefulness in her eyes as she squeezes neon glitter glue to make cards as gifts.
~ The look of deep delight on her face as she holds a pencil and carefully writes each letter of her name.
~ The way she is totally absorbed in the sensation of being in her bare feet, opening the kitchen door, running onto the freshly fallen snow, and running back inside.
~ The deep “with my whole heart and body” prayerful presence she has when we gather at the advent calendar and with her eyes squinted tightly shut, she makes the sign of the cross and says a prayer.
~ The look of quiet awe as she rests on the couch looking at our tree.
~ The “I’m fully loving this!” way she plopped down in the snow and made a snow angel.
And so when my friend asked me, “Isn’t it magical?” it woke me up. It woke me up to see my choice: to jump in and swim in the waters of delight, play, and awe of the season – or get so bent out of shape about how tidy, perfect, orderly, organized, and prepared I am.
Yes I get it. We can’t all go around every single minute of the day as mesmerized three year olds. Someone has to buy presents, organize the “to do” lists, etc. But at times I can do it with delight. I can participate and linger in the magic. I can join my daughter as she left mass the other day – honestly – trying to catch snowflakes with her tongue. I can reflect on and engage in the season of Advent – of waiting and readying my heart – rather than getting annoyed at all the holiday traffic. I can join Brian and snuggle on our couch, in our cozy front room, after the kiddos are in bed, and be grateful for the blessings right here in the ordinary.
*Dear friends, take a moment and see the holiday season from a child’s perspective. If you have pint-sized kiddos, it’s crazy, but sometimes it’s totally eye and heart opening to get down on their level (I’m talking HEIGHT here!) and see what they see.
Or imagine that you are seeing things for the FIRST time and notice how you look at things differently.
Or…(and you know I’d bring this up. It keeps things real and in perspective), imagine how you’d see this season if this was your LAST Christmas.
Yep, there’s the awe. There’s the delight. There’s the slowing down and lingering.
Here’s to waking up every single chance we get this holiday season to the delight in the ordinary. The quiet side of awe. The magic. The miraculous in the messy.
Be gentle with yourselves, dear hearts.
I will be back at the beginning of January. I’m going to take the next few weeks and (attempt to!) unplug, be present, listen, laugh, and more deeply embrace the delight in our everyday lives.
** Friends, I’m glad you are a part of this community. If you’d like to receive Gems in your inbox, click “follow.” I hope today you are inspired to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in your everyday life. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information or contact me about mindful/compassion coaching, psychotherapy, workshops and retreats.