We waited in line at a special holiday sale, the line longer than usual, the packages larger than usual, and a cheerful, seasoned employee called out “remember this is the joyful time of year!”
I wonder where the slow time has gone. Advent is meant to be a time of quiet, a time of reflection, but with activities galore, I find myself stretched too thin, lacking the “rest time” I used to require of my children in which I rejuvenated a bit myself, like putting a fresh flower in a fridge on a hot day.
When we add our goals, be it for a New Year’s Resolution, a moment of holiday reflection, a religious conviction, do we ever fail simply because we were adding one more thing?
How can I remember to implement this new task when I keep double-booking myself?
Then comes the guilt of failing at goals, “I should have done this…” “Why can’t I just…?”
We look at the long-term goal. Be a great mom! Make employee of the year! Add three clients! Buy a new house! Actually, take a vacation in which you don’t have to pack all your food with you!
Determine when we want to achieve it.
Break it down into small goals.
Set deadlines for the small goals.
Feel overwhelmed and scrap the whole thing…or…forget about it as soon as the conversation ended because your mind is at max capacity.
So much for SMART goals. This is the other side. The side that says, if I am not personally passionate about it enough to neglect everything else and move to high heaven to make it possible, it will not happen. This is the side I relish as I listen to The Lazy Genius podcast. This the side that says a quesadilla, cutie, and a carrot make a balanced meal.
Last Sunday, the lector read, “as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and, as you are conducting yourselves you, do so even more.”
We generally know our values, we generally know the type of people we want to be. Yet, it is so much easier to think if I just have X in place (a gym membership) then I would be Y (regularly exercising and live forever). I could volunteer more in order to be the giving person I should.
It is a little more obvious when we think, if I only had another room, I could make our space work. It is a safer way to think than the more-finger-pointed approach, you have everything you already need to make life work. You have it in you.
Mother Teresa said, “if you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
Another Theresa, French and from the turn of the century wrote, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
Not only do you have what it takes within you, you have the opportunities around you.
I can get off the couch or chair, away from the computer and do the task myself instead of bribing my 8-year-old. I can hold my tongue when it is feeling sharp. I could give my child a kiss or affectionate arm squeeze instead of just walking past. I could greet my husband when he comes home instead of just looking at him like the children have microwaved my brain. I can help my grandmother decorate for Christmas.
The list can go on.
During this season, those who enjoy it experience these bits of joy, nostalgia, so-called “holiday cheer” and it makes them smile more, think of others, volunteer. The little tangibles (Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, the color red) help remind us of what matters to us by sparking joy.
I am advocating for a few more tangibles in life to do that throughout the year. Whatever you are doing, see how you can do it just a little more, with a little more heart, a little more love. The opportunities are there. I think this might be the non-denominational blueprint of keeping the Christmas spirit all year long.