I recently went to visit my dad in a covid-safe way: we stayed outside mostly, wore masks etc…this was my Christmas visit 😛 Other siblings will visit him on Christmas itself, and I will see him again afterwards. We are keeping the gatherings small and short and spaced out.
As I drove home, listening to Christmas music, I pondered the notions lauded in the songs. The focus was largely about sharing time with friends and family. This, of course, is a good thing to focus on–love. There were also songs of a spiritual nature celebrating the birth of Jesus, divine love. Also, of course, a good thing to celebrate. 🙂
But, with the pandemic raging pretty much everywhere, and the vaccine months away from being available to most of us, these songs got me thinking about what it actually means to “celebrate” Christmas.
It’s easy to get caught up in Christmas “habits”–things we always do that make the holiday special. Traditions. It’s also easy to come to rely on these traditions to make us feel that our Christmas is complete (or incomplete).
I love traditions. But the truth is, happiness at Christmas (and any time) is really a choice, a state of mind. This is not a novel notion, to be sure. That said, this year has had more challenges than any in my recent memory…so it’s a perfect time to be reminded of the importance of perspective or mindset, and the individual power we have to enjoy life even in turbulent times.
Ghosts? At Christmas?
One of my favorite lines from any movie ever was uttered by Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol:
I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.Charles Dickens
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the story (if not, make it a point to read the book, or at least watch a movie adaptation). What happened to Scrooge on that fateful night was that–with the help of a few ghosts–he had a dramatic paradigm shift, an awakening.
This awakening was all about his priorities in life- the things he had been pursuing and the things he had been ignoring. This matter of attention…of what you spend your days about is assuredly a choice. It’s quite common to get into a “life routine” and to lose sight of the truth of your choice in the matter of direction and focus. But the choice is always there to be made.
This ability to choose what to pay attention to pertains to this year and this holiday season as we celebrate in a different way so as to safeguard the health of loved ones. We may feel disappointed that many traditions have to be skipped or modified this season. We may be tempted, like Scrooge, to say Bah, Humbug! Covid-Christmas sucks!
My hope, however, is that you will –without having to be haunted by ghosts– make a conscious decision to “…honour Christmas in [your] heart, and try to keep it…” even amidst a pandemic. 🙂
A great tool for such an effort is mindfulness–paying attention to details. For example, let’s say you generally gather extended family together to decorate your tree, but this year it’s just you, or just you and your husband or whatever. Rather than wallowing in sadness at this altered situation, if you make the choice, it can be quite fun still.
You could perhaps facetime as you decorate for the connection. Or you could just pay attention to things more–the beauty and/or memories of each ornament, the smell or shape of the tree, the way the lights sparkle, the happy tunes that you have in the background.
So mindfulness is one way to awaken to wonders all around you. Another way is simply thinking–consciously thinking about things–about generosity and love and wonder–stirring up those sentiments within you. Even if you don’t take an associated action, the thinking on these things is uplifting.
The point is that happiness–during the holidays and every day-is an inside job. A state of mind. A choice.
Peter Mayer captures the message of this post with this song:
So Merry Christmas! Even if it’s different, different is okay, and there’s much to celebrate. Be like Scrooge after his adventurous night:
I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”~ Charles Dickens
Check out the 30 Day Happiness Challenge to learn how to create happiness all year long