Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah. With all the planning leading up to your holiday parties, I hope you had time to enjoy each event.
With time left to celebrate, you are no doubt still busy. What do you have planned for the weekend, or for New Year's Eve? How do you plan to spend the last few days of 2012?
We will spend a few evenings with local friends. Most Christmases we travel to see family, but we will not be living in New Jersey one year from now, and we have some wonderful friends here. This year it is about appreciating the friends we have made the past 3.5 years living on the East coast.
Holidays at the end of the year is about appreciation.
Sometimes people get caught up in the planning, and miss the appreciation. It is easy to fall into this. Grocery lists, to do lists, dinner menu lists and gift lists can be over consuming.
There is much to do. Fortunately there are also ways to get past the "lists" and into the moment.
The "moment" - the very present, when you aren't worried about the future, and not anxious about the past - is where JOY resides.
So what can you do?
1. Involve family - ask your spouse, and delegate to your kids. My children helped me blend cookie mixes, and Paul helped me clean the bowls and beaters after they were done.
2. Delegate to the grocery store. The deli department makes great meats, cheeses and chicken wings. The bakery makes fresh buns.
3. Watch your over-production. Do you ever fill your fridge with so much food, you know half of it will never be eaten?
4. Pre-wrap a couple great gifts for last minute invites. Consumables (wine, cookies, almond brittle, cheeses) are always appreciated.
5. Book time for you and your immediate family. This year I grabbed a half dozen movies from the library. We played card games, and took the dog for walks. Our children still like to play games with us (hope it lasts a few more years ... But I'll appreciate the moment while I can!) AND I didn't spend movie time on the Internet getting other "tasks" done.
6. The most important thing... WHATEVER you are doing, stay in the moment. Enjoy the smells of your baking, appreciate the quiet of early morning grocery shopping, or of running into a friend in the store. Listen to your children's laughter. Focus on connecting with friends and family, instead of what food is being served.
And when the holiday season is over, and you make those lists of a normal existence, stay focused on the present.
How do you do that?
If you start to think about how much you loved the visit with your neighbor, call her and let her know.
If the house feels too quiet (and you feel a little sad that company has gone home), listen to your favorite music...or put on holiday music just one more day!
Make your favorite soup for dinner and enjoy a simple meal. Or make your children's favorite spaghetti.
And though the sounds of January are different, take time to really listen to them. The splash of rain under car tires freshens the city air. Snowfall creates a sleepy quiet. The kettle boils for a fragrant tea.
Rain...snow...tea... Spend five minutes....a few times a day... to think as simply as this.
Warm slippers... A glass of wine... The pop of heat from the fireplace.
What else can your senses experience to keep you in the moment? ...to settle your thoughts?
And to make the happy, joyful feeling of the holidays last?
Happiness and joy for your new year.