This is certainly a holiday season like no other.
Usually, right after Thanksgiving -- after we’ve gathered with friends and family and stuffed ourselves with turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and the many many other required delicacies of the day -- we are off to the holiday shopping races, that frenzied time between Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa where we plan, and budget and make lists and shop and make cookies and send holiday cards and shop more and gather for parties and eat more and drink more and shop just a little more and keep going, going, going until we finally flop in front of the tv on New Year’s morning half watching football in between naps and shoving those chips and dips and an occasional carrot stick into our yawning mouths. Exhausted. And many of us promise that next year we will focus on what is really important, make more of our gifts, send more than just a photo card, slow down and really savor the season.
Could it be that the universe is calling our bluff?
With so much uncertainty and so much pain, it’s hard to fall back into those habits of yore. We hear about a neighbor’s father passing away or a friend losing their job or the former roommate who has COVID and it’s hard sometimes to even feel festive at all. We are asked to stay home, to social distance, to wear masks and it all starts to wear on us. And it’s hard to imagine that anything good could come from such a time. But really, if you think about it, we have been given the opportunity to rethink our lives, including how we do this holiday season -- and actually do things differently this year. Maybe this year, the focus won’t be on the giving of the traditional mall-bought gifts, but on giving in other forms-- by giving of ourselves, our prayers, our care, our attention, our talents, as well as by the thoughtful and generous giving of our resources -- to the local food bank, to local businesses, to the family in need, to family support organizations. Perhaps our greatest gift to those around us, especially to our exhausted health care workers and our most vulnerable citizens, is to stay home as much as possible and wear a mask if we must be out. We often talk of sacrificial giving -- but this year that has taken on a whole different meaning. Because this year it's not just about what we do for others, but what we don't do. Yes, this is hard. We just want to live our lives and be with our loved ones and have our holiday parties. But this is a time where we really get to put our love into action -- or inaction whatever the case may be.
So while I will certainly miss some of the usual festivities during this time, I am going to savor the stillness and the time for reflection, and really focus on why we celebrate this time rather than how. And then when we all gather together next year, what a celebration we will have!
Stay safe, be well, savor the season, and Happy Holidays.
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife /English teacher and lavender farmer located in Dundee, Oregon.