My quest to be more mindful is a constant process, but every once in awhile I have a mini breakthrough that seems life changing. One such breakthrough occurred Sunday…
Every weekend following Thanksgiving we get a tree, lug up the holiday decorations from the basement and let the Christmas season descend upon us, chasing Thanksgiving away. The purpose of decorating so early is two-fold:
- this is what my family did growing up– it’s simply the way it’s done.
- this way we get the most
enjoymentuse out of our holiday decorations.
Last Sunday morning when TJ mentioned it was supposed to be rainy and cold he didn’t want to trek out for the tree or hang the lights, my reactionary and defensive mind immediately went to:
He’s just being lazy! How can he back out on our family at the last minute? Does he think I really want to do it? No, but THIS IS TRADITION! If we don’t do it today, WHEN are we going to do it? The kids are NEVER going to go for this. I will push him to participate for their sake, or, I will do it myself. If I simply act like I am leaving to buy a tree, he’ll grumble, curse and put on his boots. It won’ be pretty, and may not be fun, but we will decorate, damn it!
Then, before I opened my mouth to whine and accuse, it occurred to me quite consciously that I’d been semi-subconsciously dreading this day for awhile. Our house already feels overloaded with crap, and adding a tree and holiday knickknacks certainly isn’t going to help matters. Plus, I have a burning memory of losing my shit on the kids on last year’s tree-trimming day. (Recovery from food and drink-filled, extended-family celebrations takes longer every year, and fulfilling this traditional obligation on an empty tank is recipe for disaster.)
The question then occurred to me: why do I feel the urgency to rush into the frenetic craze of the holiday season? Why, in god’s name, does the tree need to be up in November? Who made the rules, anyway? Why do I feel the pressure to do it this way?
I paused and imagined for a moment that we didn’t put up the tree that day, and a powerful wave of relief flooded my body. My muscles softened and my body became more spacious. Clarity cascaded.
I didn’t want to do the tree either. And I didn’t have to.
No siree. I decided to let the situation go. I’d be quiet about it, and if it was important to the kids, they could push TJ. I didn’t need to be their broker. With that conscious decision I not only saved myself an argument with my husband, but I also escaped a day full of shit shuffling because the boys didn’t even bat an eye when TJ told them “not today”.
Instead of rushing into yuletide compulsion, we spent the afternoon easing into it. TJ baked cookies with red and green m & ms while the boys and I worked on a holiday card, searching for just the right photos and reflecting upon 2016, thus far. Later TJ and I enjoyed a movie while the three boys snuggled in our bed watching TV. The slow-paced afternoon was just what the doctor ordered. The best part was the kids’ idea to wait until Christmas Eve to decorate the tree. This means I won’t have a present-less tree in the corner reminding me that I didn’t take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I won’t feel a month-long pull to lade its skirts with more crap to pick up and take care of. I am ecstatic.
Please don’t misunderstand. The excitement I feel is not about me being a scrooge or wanting the holidays to halt. This is about me springing the trap of a cultural tradition in which I’d unknowingly been ensnared. It’s about me finding a bit of grounding in a time I normally feel swept off my feet and knocked off my rocker. It’s about the pride and hope I feel having paused before reacting in a pushy, defensive and controlling way (that unfortunately is normal and natural), and realizing I was about to put up a fight for a cause I didn’t want.
This holiday epiphany makes me wonder why I didn’t previously consider postponement of the decorating extravaganza. More than that, it makes me wonder what other confining and irrelevant rules I live by, completely unaware, and how often I may instigate needless arguments, simply because I haven’t paused– both to consider and to feel.
One small change for my family, one giant leap for my mind.