Oh, the holidays...

The holiday’s are here and I’m feeling a mix of so many different emotions.

Right before Thanksgiving, I start feeling excited for the holiday’s arrival. The air is turning a little crisper and cooler and I begin planning for the season.

And then…BAM! Out of nowhere, it’s here.

Now that I’m a parent, the days between Thanksgiving and New Years are filled with running around gathering gifts, transporting kids to their various events, and so many other busy things. Christmas Eve is spent wrapping last minute gifts, strategically placing the presents under our tree and prepping for a delicious Christmas breakfast. It’s very easy to allow the minutia of the days to swallow me up and lose sight of the joy the season has to offer.

I also think about the people who are struggling during this time. Not just on the physical level- for survival, but also on the emotional and spiritual levels. This year, I’m especially thinking about my sister, who is marking these holidays (and her wedding anniversary) for the first time without her husband. We’re still feeling the after shocks of his sudden death at the beginning of the year. And I know that whatever level of sadness and grief I’m feeling it’s nothing compared to the intensity of feelings she must be experiencing.

So what’s the key to getting through all of these obstacles and back to the place where we can enjoy the opportunities of the season? The gatherings with friends and family, the extra yummy foods, the smells and sounds that bring back such nostalgic feelings of happiness and hope?

For me, I return to gratitude. I start with offering gratitude for the most immediate things- like my breath, my heartbeat, my sense of smell, sight, taste and sound. Then I move onto gratitude for our home, running water, heat, electricity. And all my friends and family who brighten my days. And then onto how I live my life surrounded in loving every single day, with a husband and two boys who are full of energy, light, laughter and unconditional loving. I also offer gratitude for my connection with Spirit.

And then I make myself stop and be still. I stop whatever it is I’m doing, which we all know is so hard to do when we’re so busy. And I smell the air. Look at the trees. Notice the birds singing, And see the lights on the houses, twinkling bright. If I can, (because sometimes I’m too stuck in my sadness and it’s hard, but if I can…) I try to look up. And I see the sky. And I notice how very, very small I am in the grand scheme of things.

This allows me to remember that I’m only a small part of the big equation. And there are others who are struggling too. And if at all possible, I try to determine where I can serve others. I remember the feeling that overtakes me when I’m helping someone else and how it brings me to a place of joy.

So how do you handle the challenges and obstacles of the season? Or do you embrace the holidays and experience the pure joy that they have to offer? If so, how can you reach out and share your joy with others?

My wish for this season is for us all to be a little more gentle with ourselves. To allow ourselves the freedom to experience whatever we’re feeling and trust that the blessings are always available to us. To be kind and loving to everyone we come in contact with.

Perhaps we can spread the joy of the season one smile at a time.

Happy Holidays!

In loving,

Sarah

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