This is the time of year when the Scrooge story is on TV. I started to think about the ghosts that visit him. Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. I always think about Christmas Past. I think about the time when we had small children and Christmas was so joyful and exciting. Seeing the children as they opened their presents was wonderful. That time is gone for me. I’m not sure I completely appreciated it. I didn’t lock it away and say to myself “remember this, it won’t come again.” We don’t usually think such thoughts when we are experiencing life. I don’t know if we have to or should. It might bring sadness into the picture….the thought that time is moving on and this moment will be gone.
Each phase of life is different. Years ago I studied Hindu thinking with a practitioner and liked the idea of the eight-fold path. We have important things to accomplish in the different ages we live. My age should be concerned with understanding life in all its aspects. I think that is what I am doing. I can look back…not to bemoan my faults …but to glean the wisdom I gained. I want to accomplish this and share what I discover.
I do miss the joys of Christmas Past but it was a different time and I can’t go back. I don’t think I want to. I just wish some of it would stick around. Instead we have another wonky Christmas. We will be gone next week for Hap’s therapy and my daughter will come the Friday we arrive back to celebrate early with us. She will be working Christmas week. We celebrate with my son and his family Christmas week. My other daughter and her family we will not get to see.
It is life. I will concentrate on the reason for the holiday and enjoy the family time that we will have. I don’t have time for regrets and wishing the past was back. I have too much living in the now to do. After all, who knows what Christmas Future will be.
The other night I had the strangest dream. I was in a situation where all I did was wait. I won’t explain the whole dream but it was obvious waiting was the point. I was with others and waited for hours. I got very upset and angry because the wait was due to poor management.
I don’t like confusion, poor planning, and waiting.
Years ago I learned the response to poor planning: “poor planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on mine.” I actually used it once and then felt so bad that I have never said it again.
I think the dream was trying to remind me that there are times when we have to wait and we need to do it patiently. We also have to remember what we are waiting for, This season before Christmas is Advent. The dictionary says that Advent is: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. If you are Christian then the wait is for the Christ child.
I am not sure in this day and age how seriously we consider this. There is so much else….shopping, parties, baking, decorating and sometimes traveling. We are so busy that there is not time. I doubt that those who are celebrating other holidays do any better at paying attention to the meaning of the holiday. I hope some do.
During this time before Christmas I plan to concentrate on the meaning of it all and try to move away from concentration on gifts and gatherings. I hope that my times of meditation and contemplation will help me to focus on what I am waiting for.
I worked for a Lutheran church and I now go to an Episcopal church. I love liturgy. It has form and function. In the midst of a chaotic world it continues an age old pattern. That gives me comfort.
We are now in the season of Advent. Advent arrives in the darkest time of the year. Where I live it has been gloomy for the last week. We have had cold and rain. The sky is gray, the trees are gray…it feels as if the world is gray. The weather at this time of the year can be really depressing.
We are at the time of the year when a lot of the world is preparing for the (dare I say) Christmas holidays. Hanakkuh is also being celebrated. Even people who have no religious background or affiliation get into the season. It is hard to resist lights, trees, and presents. The commercial world is pumping out enticing ads and people are binge watching holiday movies. For most people the mood is bright.
However, this can be a difficult time for some. Think about those for whom this time of year is hard. For the homeless it is just cold and miserable. We see them huddled on the streets and in cardboard boxes cringing away from the cold. Those who have lost loved ones during this season struggle with their loss. There are so many memories. People who are without family or friends see the season highlighting their loneliness.
This can be a wonderful time. Anticipation can be joyful. It can also be devastating. Look around you at those who suffer in Advent. What is coming for them can be sad and lonely. Do what you can to help.
Taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life. —Dalai Lama
Christmas is about giving. It is not about trying to give the most expensive gift. It is about giving the things that warm the heart. We have become so conscious of labels. Is that from Marc Jacobs or Coach? We even have many things with the labels on the outside so we can flaunt how expensive something is. When I was growing up we wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing a label on the outside of something. It is amazing how things have changed.
This kind of thinking makes us feel stingy if we don’t or can’t give something expensive. Some of the best things I have been given were of little or no cost. I have a small angel sitting by my sink. It holds my rings when I take them off. My mother gave this to me and I remember her when I use it. I doubt it cost more than $1.00. It was in my stocking one Christmas. A forever gift.
The gift of time is one of the most amazing gifts we can give… visiting a friend who is sick, transporting someone who just needs a ride. These are gifts that bring joy to others and to us.
We have lost the pleasure of giving something hand made. We can’t seem to grasp that the hours taken to make a gift are also a gift of time. When I knit or crochet a gift I think about that person while making it. Love is put into each stitch. It brings me joy to do this and I hope that it brings love to the person receiving it.
Those who feed the homeless or collect items for them are giving a gift of themselves along with the food and clothing. These gifts bring joy to all.
This season remember the joy of giving. The cost matters not. It is the love in the gift.
This quote set me to thinking. We can easily be too busy about nothing. Does the busy-ness cover our inability to stop? Are we busy about things that have no meaning?
It is so easy to get caught up especially in this season. Shopping, baking, decorating seem to take up all of our time. Our minds are on overloaded trying to juggle everything. We don’t take time to stop and think. Unfortunately we have turned this holiday season into a nightmare. Many of us spend more than we should on things that may not even be appreciated. We need to rethink this season and find a middle ground that works.
In the last few years I have backed off from some of the stress I created during the holidays. I have a much more relaxed attitude. Things don’t get done as fast and if they are not done at all that’s ok. I used to be whirling dervish…running everywhere….making sure everything was perfect…driving myself crazy. When the holidays actually arrived I was too tired to enjoy them.
We can set ourselves an impossible task. We can end up exhausted and burned out. Try to decide the things that really matter and let the rest go. You will reap the benefit of enjoying a joyful season.
What is thinking and how do we handle it? Being able to think is such a good thing but we can really get off track. Our thinking can make decisions about how we live each day. I want as many good days as possible, don’t you?
We get up each morning and without conscious thought may make a decision about how the day will go, This early morning idea can make or break our day. The thoughts may be a follow-through from the day before. It could be leftover feelings from a dream. Sometimes I wake up with a dream in my conscious mind and the related feelings foremost.
Knowing what is scheduled for the day may set the path even before we really have our eyes open. If we dread the day and let that be paramount we will start off with that underlying thought. I don’t think it will be our best day.
Feelings influence our thoughts and can take over from our rational mind and start us off on the wrong foot. When this happens I have to shake myself, like one of my dogs do, and push that feeling away.
If we want the day to go well it helps if we start off that way. If you can find something that gets you up to a good day use it. Someone I admire opens her eyes and says “God be on my right hand, God be on my left hand, God be in my heart and God be in my mind this day.” She says it brings her desire for the day into focus even before her foot hits the floor. Someone else has the things she is most thankful for taped to her bathroom mirror.
Whatever we can find to get those thoughts started off right will make a tremendous difference in our day. Make it a habit and plan for good days.
Yesterday I was missing something very dear to me. Something my mother gave me. I was upset but shortly after realizing that it was gone I went on Reader and was given the word peace to think on. It was just what I needed. I was drawn to the phrase from Mark “Peace, be still! It made me stop my obsessing and turn to meditation to calm myself. It turned me around completely. I was able to adjust my thinking and my day went much better than it could have.
I learned a valuable lesson about approaching a problem with a different attitude. One I have known all along but didn’t use. My day could have dissolved into anxiety (which was where I was headed) but the day moved in a totally different direction. Lesson learned.
It is so important keep on track and it is so hard at first. Old habits want to return. I learned as a piano student that practice is the only thing that works. Note to self: the coping skills only work when practiced routinely.