During Christmas dinner, my cousin (with his bizarre sense of humor) pretended to serve the shriveled up fruit he had recently encountered, forgotten in storage from the year before. His joke was fitting – our family gatherings seemed as stale as the fruit – same routine, same menu, same tensions.
While we long for relaxation by a roaring fire, hot cocoa, and the smell of fresh baked cookies, our experience of the holiday season may be more like the stale fruit – repeating the same unfulfilling activities year after year.
On autopilot, we find ourselves walking zombie-like through the mall searching for obligatory gifts, scrawling our signature on dozens of cards that we don’t feel like writing, showing up at various events because we have to. “Happy holidays” in a minor key.
Today, a friend told me about a young, single acquaintance who needed maternity clothing for a new job. My friend took the woman shopping and purchased outfits to get her through the week. Compassion – not obligation. She beamed as she told me of the trip.
Her story brought to mind my own most vivid and dearest memory of a holiday … serving meals in a shelter on Christmas Day. The tiny, cold, ramshackle row house so warmed by the love of the kind women who served daily meals to the homeless men living in the encampment near the tracks.
The older I become, the more fleeting life seems and the more I seek meaning. This season, no more stale fruit. I’m setting the intention to be more present with each person I encounter. I’m committed to not let my formal mindfulness practice fall by the wayside during this busy time of year. I’ll look for opportunities to do something unexpected for someone. I’ll give fewer gifts to people who don’t need, and donate more to those who do. I’ll write fewer obligatory cards, and more heartfelt notes. Less decorating, more time with dear friends.
What about you? What would feel fulfilling? What do you need more of? What do you need less of? What will make your holiday memorable?