Have Yourself an Average Little Christmas

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This year, make THIS the Best Christmas Ever!

Hey, no pressure though....

I like to think that many of us are wise enough by now to see through these taunts of marketing attempting to guilt us into buying/doing/having more stuff - preying on our insecurities that we won't measure up in the eyes of our friends, co-workers, neighbors, families, and worst of all, THE CHILDREN!... my GOD, how could you possibly deprive the THE CHILDREN of the Best Christmas Ever..?!?!?

And yet...

We still find ourselves dutifully swiping the credit cards till the numbers are illegible, standing in long lines at Tar-shjay (ideal for practicing wu chi, by the way..), vying in un-Christian ways for parking lot spaces, staying up or out till midnight for those holiday sales (or 2 am, if you're shopping at Macys... 2? AM? Really?????)

But then, shhhhh... wait. Do you hear what I hear? That still, small voice whispering the heretical and quite possibly anti-American question, Why?

Why am I driving myself nuts? Is this worth it? All to just add more stuff to the pile? Am I enjoying myself? What's wrong with me that I can't seem to 'get in the spirit' ? (And since when did 'getting in the spirit' become synonymous with 'a willingness to join the cattleherd of consumerism', or trying to measure up to the Martha Stewarts of the world who seem to be able to provide enough cookies even for the guys who pick up the recycling.... as much as I appreciate them...)

Am I lazy? Cynical? Rebellious? Selfish? Inadequate? (gasp....!) SCROOGE?

Or am I recognizing a deeper current within me than that of societal mainstream?

I've said it before - winter is a time for energetically drawing inward. Getting quiet. Conserving one's resources with rest and renewal. (Don't believe me? Take a look outside. What is nature doing now?) Now, take a look on tv at what we're being encouraged to live up to.

Which makes more sense to you?

More to the point, which makes more sense to your body?

It's a sad reality that it often takes an illness or breakdown of some kind before people will let themselves off the hook. When we come up against a very real choice between frantic activity and our health, we begin developing different priorities - our own well-being coming a bit closer to the top of the list. We may learn to say 'no' to yet another party. We may be delighted to find that gift-giving and celebrating can be very simple and joyful and intimate, of one should feel called to do so in the first place.

We may discover that no one will die if we don't send cards to the entire extended family, get the lights up in front of the house, or make this the Best Holiday Season Ever!... (Whatever that means... and didn't we do that last year? And the year before? Did we ever get there? Who's keeping track of this stuff anyway....?)

And we may realize that we will almost certainly run ourselves down with more serious consequences if we continue trying to keep up with a frenetic pace that is so counter to our natural way of being.

So, what is our natural way of being? And how then shall we celebrate this season?

If you're reading this, you probably are enjoying the comfort of a roof over your head and a working furnace. Maybe a hot cup of something yummy.

There was a time in our not too distant past when humanity was taking this time to huddle together in hopes of getting through the long, cold, dark night with what they were able to shore up in the warmer months.

And many cultures... being so closely connected to the sun which gave them light.. would indeed be celebrating as they witnessed the promise of the days eventually getting longer, with the hopes that they could hold out till spring.

The religious meaning of this holiday is also about the hope and promise of a different kind of light returning to the world - even though in both cases, it would take a very long time to see and feel it. In the meantime, we humans would have to rely on each other for care and comfort.

These are not such different times. There are those who are cold and lonely. There are those without adequate shelter and food and whom are physically struggling. And there are those who have the physical comforts but will still fall into darkness, depression and despair during this season. We do still need to huddle together, giving each other the gifts of warmth, joy, companionship and spirit.

How might we honor our inner promptings for peace and sanity during this time?

How might we gift each other with a simple meeting of real needs?

How might we help each other and ourselves replenish the well, share the reserves of the storehouses, and get each other through the darkness until the light returns?

Hmmmm... this just might end up to be the best. holiday. ever....