Photo credit: Tab62/Shutterstock

Photo credit: Tab62/Shutterstock

Eleven years ago the life coach I then was offered these words of would-be wisdom for dealing with the mother of all holidays. Have at my words and please share yours via comments.

I woke up the other 2008 late fall morning with that odd mix of anxiety and anticipation I’ve come to expect at this time of year. How can I do it all? Do I even want to? Why can’t it just be over? But strangely, those pesky questions arise alongside a mysterious, barely-contained joy, that the wonder of Christmas is upon us.

Although I haven’t been officially “Christian” for almost ever, the story of Christ’s birth and loving service to humankind—and the truest traditions that have arisen from it—continue to touch my heart. The promise of light at this darkest time of year—the star of Bethlehem, the Winter Solstice, the glow of Christmas tree bulbs indoors and out—gladden me and lift me up.

Do the light, the candles and carols, the holiday rituals borrowed from ancestors in Norway and England inspire me? Or is it simply that the absolute certainty of December 25 as a “holy day” is for me the most sublime of all Christmas gifts? For me, and perhaps for you too if you let it, Christmas is a time to unfurl the white flag, give up the struggles of everyday and surrender into all that is holy within and around us—family, friends, eggnog, cookies, lights and greens—whatever is sacred, which is to say whatever is most meaningful, to the child in you.

I used to try to make Christmas happen according to my well-laid plan. I was usually successful, the events of the day faithful to what I had in mind they should be. But was I rested, relaxed and happy when I came down to greet Christmas morning? Not so much. I was often a wreck, too spent to enjoy the fruits of my considerable “successful” efforts. How much happier I am now, when I lay less groundwork coming from a place that makes room for my joy to mount. How much better for me and those around me when I do less, let go of the results of my doing and let the holiday in.

There is no one right way to do Christmas, or any of life. But as we enter this holiday season, what I am inviting us to is this: to move out of the mind and its myriad to-do’s and shoulds, and back into our bodies and souls. How? By stopping and checking in with ourselves as often as ever we can remember to. Is my heart really in what I am doing right now? We always know. And if it isn’t, how about shifting gears to do only what we want to do, which might just be nothing at all!

To create a Christmas rife with peace, joy and love, it helps to remember that we cannot give what we do not have. If we’re not feeling joyful, loving and peaceful, those around us aren’t likely to be feeling the glow either. So as I see it, these holidays are a time to collect ourselves and to recollect how whole and holy WE are, the better to give and receive—to share—life’s bounty, at Christmas and all the year long. Merry Christmas and love to you all!

About the Author: Suzanne Grenager

A seasoned writer and mentor with a gift for helping people see and be their most authentic, empowered Self.

8 Comments

  1. Martha Metz December 20, 2019 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    A very Merry soulful, joyful CHRISTmas to you! Your thoughts into crafted words touch me…us. The true gift is love, joy and understanding, the essence of it all.
    To enjoy the process is the key to PEACE! Also, when I started to embrace the
    church season of the twelve days of CHRISTmas – the wonderment of joy and ease greatly opened up! Joyfully, Martha Metz

    • suzanne grenager December 20, 2019 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Love and Christmas blessings to you, dear Martha. Thank you for being touched and for telling us you were.

    • Geoffrey Gyrisco December 20, 2019 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Suzanne, thank you for sharing this and for the insightful comments above. Embrace the twelve days of Christmas. The great commercial Christmas juggernaut, like some machine out of Star Wars, encourages us to pre-celebrate Christmas with months of promotion and anticipation rising to a fever pitch in the final weeks. We get invitations to a mind-numbing number of events and parties. Then the Big Day comes, and we are tired and stressed, and it never meets expectations, if we expect it to be like the scene in the Christmas cards. Then it is all over in 24 hours. On the 26th left-overs in the stores are on clearance, and the Christmas trees are starting to pile up on the curb, and many feel let down in the darkest days of winter. Traditionally the Christian churches called for 40 days of preparatory fasting, not partying, and then a joyful celebration spread out over a full 12 days. Whether Christian or religious or not, the traditional approach works. Once I stopped doing things out of a sense of obligation, minimized the number of pre-Chrismtas events, simplified the celebration and spread it out, sending out gifts and cards over the 12 days, I found greater peace and joy, and released most of the stress.

      • Suzanne Grenager December 23, 2019 at 1:05 pm - Reply

        Brilliant plan, dear Geoffrey, and so well expressed! Trond and I have long tried to minimize the pre-Christmas hoopla and extreme commercialism leading up to December 25. Instead, like Trond’s Norwegian forbears, we too celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, as you suggest. I’ve been known to leave the tree up through January, exactly because of the inspiring quality of the lights in that darkest of months. Thank you for your thoughtful offering, which I hope others will read and take to heart. Have a very merry extended holiday!

  2. Karen Latvala December 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Dear Suzanne, it is so nice to see a blog post from you after so long! Your “advice” still rings true to me. Stop the craziness and do what is reasonable, allowing joy to arise in the process. At this stage in my life, our Christmas preps are nearly nonexistent, and the celebration is more internal and reflective. Time spent with good friends and uplifting conversations is on our agenda. I wish you a beautiful holiday season with time for joy to bubble up!
    —Love, Karen

  3. suzanne grenager December 20, 2019 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I love the idea of letting joy “bubble up.” Thanks for being here, dear Karen, and may your holiday be bubbly with joy and time for reflection and connection!

  4. Suzanne Grenager December 23, 2019 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Oddly the replies I intended to post AFTER the comments below often ended up elsewhere, in Karen’s case, first. Sorry for the possible confusion, but thanks so much for being here!

  5. Suzanne Grenager January 7, 2020 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Blessings to all at the start of this troubling new year!

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