“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.”
― Alice Morse Earle
The holiday season is upon us, and the to-do lists keep getting longer and longer, with pressure increasing. My inbox continues to ‘ding’ with notifications of Santa visits throughout shops and venues around town, not to be missed because guarantees are high for the absolute merriest of times. Then, there are the distractions of the sales, coupons, and not-to-be-missed television programs that accompany the season as well. The tree must be up and decorated, the house adorned in wreaths and clothed in red and green. Let us not forget the mounding intensity to get that “perfect” present.
The pressure is too great. It is all too much.
I am tired. I didn’t even want to get out the ornaments or put up the lights this year. Because then I’d just have to put them away a few weeks later. And that’s terrible. The whole point (in my humble opinion) of this holiday time, regardless of specific religious affiliation, is to take the time. It’s about trading in iPads and excessive work for game nights and family time. It’s about relishing in the small things, thinking of others more than ourselves. Even the idea of holiday cards is to take this one time of year (at least), and touch base, if nothing more than with a family photo or card, with those we may not see on a regular basis. We let others know they are important to us.
This is a time to reflect. This is the exact time to take the time.
Even with the New Year on the horizon, it is a time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to what we want in the future. And that’s not to say it’s always a glorious reflection. For some people, this is a time of year in which loved ones were lost. Others are not comfortable in large gatherings, preferring a quiet night at home. Equally, there are people who can’t keep up with the financial demands of the season, and feel inadequate. Sometimes it doesn’t feel so merry.
Yet, we can still sit with the simple pleasures. Seeking a friend to grab a movie if family is not an option. Helping out a local church or charitable organization not only can keep us grateful of the things and people we do have in our lives, yet also gives a chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
And all of this - life – it is bigger than us. It’s beautiful, it’s messy, it’s confusing, and sometimes everything feels too much. There is too much to do and too little time. And equally it begs the question, why put up Christmas lights when you just take them down soon after?
But if not now, then when? When is it time to participate in the moment?
When is it time to stop and smell the roses (or pine trees)? When is it a good time to reconnect with a long-lost friend? When it the right time to forgive a family member who has deeply hurt us? When do we just sit with ourselves?
The answer always seems to be, later. Or after finishing such and such. Or accomplishing this goal. Or when others change their behavior.
But the future is not guaranteed.
Good or bad, all we have is this moment. There will never be another December 2017 in which my little (ish) girls will all watch in glorified amazement at their father climbing on the roof to put up our lights. There will never be another moment when I have a 9, 7 and 4-year-old that are all outside in their bare feet giggling with glee as we countdown until the Christmas lights go on. (Equally, there is not a guarantee that these discounted lights from last year will last through the week.) So soak it in. Don’t hide behind a camera to try and capture the moment. See it firsthand. Live it firsthand. Breathe and experience it.
Breathe and experience life.
"Don't wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect." - Unknown
So, the Christmas lights are up, the ornaments are out, and the holiday cards are sent. I even put our festive towels in the bathroom. Because if not now, then when? We must remember that beyond the glitz and glamour marketed in the season, even beyond the glitz promised in all the glamour – this moment is the best present of all.