A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite classic Christmas movies. Part of me just loves cranky old Ebenezer Scrooge and all his bah humbug grumpiness. I’ve found that in spite of my best efforts to soak up all the Christmas joy each year, it’s easy for my perspective to shift from excited to go gift shopping to feeling financially burdened and stressed about finding the perfect gift for everyone. And from thrilled to attend holiday parties and enjoy time with friends to feeling overwhelmed, over-booked, and just plain exhausted. As I get older, it becomes harder and harder to embrace the magic of the holiday season with childlike wonder and joy…
Another thing I find interesting about A Christmas Carol is the concept of being greeted by one’s past, future, and present. It seems so true that each year, I get nostalgic for the good old days and get wrapped up in memories of Christmases past, or focus on worries of what the future might bring and how different holidays will be in years to come as we add children, aging parents, etc. to the mix. And with the hustle and bustle of gift shopping, holiday parties, potlucks, concerns about all the fatty delicious food I’m adding to my butt, and planning for the New Year, this magical season seems to pass by too quickly.
My parents always tell me the story of how when I was a fussy newborn, they would place me in a baby swing in front of the Christmas tree, and suddenly I was awestruck by the wonderment of the lights! All my crankiness faded away in the presence of those magical soft twinkle lights. There are some seriously cute pictures of me staring at the tree with the reflection of the lights in my eyes. Somewhere along the way, we seem to lose that childlike wonder of enjoying the lights before our minds drag us off to the next thing we have to get done, or the annoyance of one of the lights going out, and having to string up some new ones.
My challenge to myself and to you this holiday season, is to observe our thoughts and recognize when they’re racing us out of enjoying the present moment. Take the time to sit still with our babies, really listen to our grandparents’ stories, tune into the sound of children’s laughter, smell the Christmas tree and candles, taste the chai tea (or peppermint mocha), feel the warmth of the fire in the fire place, look at the Christmas lights – really look - and observe the feelings that ultimately arise within. Allowing the ghost of Christmas Present to take us over, and savor each moment. Even as you stand in line at the mall (or God forbid Walmart…), as you bake cookies, eat cookies, kiss under the mistletoe, and hear Jingle Bells for the 9 millionth time, take it all in as if it’s a brand new experience. Let’s see if we can all see, hear, taste, smell, and feel the magic of the holiday spirit this year.