I’m not really a big Christmas person. As I’ve mentioned, I’m Jewish, so it’s not really my holiday. In fact, over the past several years I’ve come to dread it. Well, maybe dread is too strong a word, but whatever the opposite of enjoy, that’s how I feel about it. The commercialization, stress of preparing, big crowds, none of that appeals to me.
The winter weather is not my favorite either. I lived in North Idaho for several years, where you have several feet of snow outside your front door, where winter can start in October and end in May, where they have entire festivals dedicated to winter just to cope. My idea of the perfect temperature is 84 degrees, so that tells you about all you need to know.
This year is different. The pandemic has caused me to slow down, and losing a loved one has changed my priorities. So, while I may never celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, and may still crave the tropics, I have changed my perspective and can appreciate the season for all that it brings.
For the Northern hemisphere, today is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. That means it’s also the shortest day of the year, and that is good news. This is when days begin to get longer, as we begin to turn back towards the sun. It’s a time of slowing down and rejuvenation. Just as the plants and trees need winter to rest and prepare for spring growth, we can use this time in much the same way.
There are also many religious and other secular holidays that take place this time of year. As I see it, they have many commonalities and that’s what I will focus on moving forward. Top of my list: Light, Peace, Joy, Love, Faith and Hope. With these as my focus, what is there not to enjoy?
I recognize that the pandemic makes this time of year a particularly stressful time for many of you. Those who usually enjoy the holidays, and I know that’s most of you, are missing the large family gatherings, exchanging of gifts, community events and Christmas parties. A little shift in perspective may help you get through this year until we can return to “normal.” Here are some ideas to help you cope:
Be sure to attend to your physical health
I joined an online challenge to complete the route of the Camino de Santiago in 12 weeks. That’s a pretty ambitious goal for me, about six miles a day. I work well with goals, so it will keep me moving. Here’s a link to the website that has a whole list of challenges.
Snuggle up with a good book
Give yourself the gift of relaxation in your own home. You’ve got extra time this year, so use it to take some “me” time. That might mean a book, a bath, a puzzle or whatever helps you to feel pampered at home.
Create a new ritual
For me, that’s my afternoon tea time. I set aside 20 minutes in the early afternoon to cozy up in my favorite chair with my favorite tea and some small indulgence like a cookie (a snickerdoodle, vegan, from Trader Joe’s). You might take a relaxing stroll or listen to music, or play a video game. Whatever relaxes you and puts you in a good mood.
Connect with family
Whether you live alone or with other family members, this can be accomplished live or via Zoom. You can plan activities or just wing it. Get to know each other a little better.
Take an online class
There are no shortage of classes you can take online. Everything from cooking to physical fitness to MEDITATION! Use this slower time to learn something new.
Get out. Every. Damn. Day.
I know it’s cold and everything looks dead. But bundle up and look closer. There’s so much beauty in the quietness that the season brings.
Use the internet for virtual travel
Tim and I traveled to Barcelona this year. That included food, museum tours, décor, the whole experience short of being there in person. You’ll learn about your destination and have fun planning it.
Enjoy the lights of the season
Most communities have areas of homes or businesses dressed to the nines for the holidays. These can be viewed from your car, so it’s a COVID-safe activity and gets you out of the house.
Start a journal
Oh, how I wish I had started a journal at the beginning of the year. What a year this has been and it would have been good to document that. I have journaled off and on for years, and 2021 is my year for making it part of my regular practice. More on that next week.
No matter how you feel about this time of year, use this slower time to connect with yourself and others, to bring peace to your life and others and to just be. Happy holidays to you and yours from me and mine. Much love to all of you.