The expectations, disappointments and excitement of the holidays have come and gone. Each year we gear up, sometimes for months ahead (if only in our minds), for the end of the year holidays.
Such hope, such anguish...what is the 'just right' gift, will there be enough money to cover all I want to do, what marvelous and memorable delicacies should be served, will everyone be happy and content, will everyone travel safely, how can I bear to be without those who are far away, what changes will I make in my life to start the new year on a positive note?
On and on it goes. In actuality, we can make ourselves kind of nuts with it all. As I ponder it, what I know is that the few holidays in between 'real life' are really no different from the others. But expectations are heightened with a sense of freshness, of life being a little better, a little different. A sense that the festivities, the sharing, the laughter will naturally be like magic for us and for those we love.
For me, and perhaps for others of you who have been around the post a few times, those expectations and those hopes, reflect wishes for atonement, to be relieved of self-imposed guilt for doing or not doing something that has impacted the life of someone else, to have pains of the past miraculously washed away in the blink of a holiday.
Well, of course, the holiday magic isn't really magic at all. It's life in a little different setting, same music repeated from years past. We are shown through various media images of the perfect holiday celebration, of families in perfect clothes and hair, the perfect decorations and table prepared, all generations of the family attending with smiles of contentment, 'just-right' laughter and holiday spirit.
I looked around at the family that was able to share the holiday time with me. We may not be a reflection of that 'picture-perfect' family on the television, but it warmed me to my toes to just be in the same space with these delightful and 'perfect for me' beings, to touch them and to eat the delicious meal that was so generously and lovingly prepared. I enjoyed the gift giving, the appreciation, the hugs, the laughter and the tears. As always happens, always, when my family gets together, someone makes a funny comment, something that gets the laughter started. Then escalates the inappropriate humor and the deterioration of all that's gracious and beautiful. Oddly, it's usually during our meal that the madness begins. Manners out the door, delicate (haha) conversation be damned! Yep, my perfect holiday!
Some of my children were able to be here, such sweetness for me. The family and friends too far away were truly missed. Thank goodness there are days beyond the holidays to continue the relationships, time to reach out and share moments. I'm often reminded of the saying, "Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today." That is especially important when it comes to reaching out with compassion, interest and affection to those who live in our circle of friendship and family. We have only this minute to make a difference in someone's life and heart...and in ours. The next minute or day may not be ours to share a message of love, support, gratitude, encouragement or apology. Regret and 'if only I had...', are so painful.
So, the holidays are gone, but not forgotten. I didn't relieve anyone's burdens or take away anyone's closely-held pain or struggles or make any profound changes in my life or theirs. But I laughed and loved and for a moment held in my arms some of my most precious joys, my children. They are moments that are mine for as long as my mind holds out and can retain the memories for me. I dream of having many of these fleeting moments in time. I dream of living long, holding babies, sharing in the love that is around me.
And for you, may you find the joy that is close at hand. Joy often comes in a moment, a word, a small expression of care and love. Don't wait for it to come to you, reach out and make a difference for yourself and for someone else.