I walked into the clubhouse last Saturday to sit by the fire and read for a bit. It is a beautiful quiet space with couches that have barely been used in a several thousand square foot room that I rarely have to share. While it seems odd to me that I usually have the place to myself, I am never disappointed by the intimacy and quiet I can find in this space I call ‘home’, even during the busiest of seasons.
Quiet. Serene. Peaceful. Yes, even during the holiday season. Even with all the celebrations and parties, the gift shopping, the hustle and bustle of the crowds, and even work, I declare peace on this holiday season. Why? Because I don’t want to miss it. I have missed many precious moments…but won’t ever again because I know now that what is now, will not be forever.
As I settled into the couch, feet propped on the coffee table in front of me, my Nook in my hands quieting my pulse, I began to notice a rigorous and constant sound of tape-tearing and perhaps a few sighs. As I looked slightly over my shoulder, I saw a woman standing at the counter who seemed to be wrapping several gifts. I assumed she was going to be adding them to the giant gift wrapped cardboard box in the hallway for children in need.
My mind wandered a moment thinking how gracious it was of her to buy several gifts for children she does not even know and then to take even more time to carefully, though it did appear almost aggressively, wrapping them. Who was she? Did she not have children of her own? Maybe they were all grown and she was missing them?
I tried to regroup and concentrate on my book.
“Sorry about the noise,” I heard her say from the corner of the room.
“That’s okay,” I said, admiring her for her generosity. “So thoughtful that you bought all of those gifts…”
“I’m exhausted. I actually hate the holiday season. Just hate it. Too much to do and not enough time to do it. It is so stressful!”
I was silenced as my thoughts ran wild. Did she really just say that? While she was generously wrapping gifts? Was she the Grinch? No, she couldn’t be! She was wrapping gifts for children she didn’t even know. How could she hate anything right now? There had to be a mistake.
I desperately tried to find something slightly optimistic to say. “Yeah, it sure does get busy, but that is so thoughtful of you to think about gift giving like that, in spite of how busy you are…”
I hoped she would hear me. I wanted to say so much more but knew it was not my place. She hadn’t found me because she was looking for a new perspective. She hadn’t asked me to Coach her. She found me by accident and was simply sharing with anyone that would listen. I happened to be the one today.
“I hate to say it,” she continued, “but I cant wait til it is over so I can relax.”
My heart sunk for her. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to play the tape back so she could hear her own words. Surely she didn’t mean it. Or did she? Was all that work was simply just to get through the holiday season?
That defeats the whole point. The purpose. The meaning behind it all. The holidays are supposed to be about ‘being’ not ‘doing’. Period. It is a time finally when you get to be with the people you love. A time when schools and offices shut down, and people expect you to be on a break. Family members travel from far away, college kids come home, and growth is measured in leaps and bounds. It is the one time of year when busy is not supposed to be the actual activity…but instead, just being.
I am busy too. However this year I chose to take a few to-dos off of my list in lieu of more quiet and serenity, since I have lost enough this year already and finally am feeling mended. No one will notice if they don’t get that candle I usually buy, but I will notice if I am so busy doing that once the holiday has passed, I still feel like I haven’t had the chance to actually be present with my favorite people.
Want a great holiday season to remember this year? Then put your energy into being present in everything you do and everyone you are with.
Maybe you can recruit the family to help this year. How about ordering in to make it easier. How about buying a few less gifts and then let the dishes settle into the sink a little longer….dirty! Nothing will happen to the dishes while they soak. But you, my friend, will be given the gift of a lifetime. One that will never be quite the same again. Because that is how life is.
So commit to being present this year. No greater gift than that. Keep looking, listening and noticing who is around you. Surely this moment will never arrive again just like it is right now.