You know our awesome holiday gift guide – the one we publish each year to help you choose the healthiest and happiest of things to wrap and put under the tree? We use it to buy ourselves lovely objects too – like the Philips blue light or that cool coffee grinder. It’s those simple everyday objects that help us enjoy moments of peace, comfort and focus. And for those moments we are grateful.
But ever since I published the guide, I’ve felt a bit unsettled. What about the stuff that isn’t stuff…like the fuzzies you get from looking at cute animals and babies? What about the heart?
So, in no particular order, here is the list of things we want to do this holiday season that are not stuff. We hope and pray they bring sentiently deeper moments of peace, comfort and focus than our things. And for those new moments we will be grateful.
Say “Thank you”, or “I am grateful for you”. Say it to your mom for her hospitality, or to your colleague for the way they always ask if you want something from the cafeteria. Say it to someone who refers business to you. Or to someone who doesn’t even know they impact your life – like a person you follow online whose writing helps you through each day, yet they have no clue of how much impact they have on you.
Say “Thank you” to your body for being there. For kicking up the covers on those days when your will is low, for shivering when it’s cold, for sweating when it’s hot, for relaxing when you are tired. Your body works for you all day and all night long – a hundred trillion cells are churning away, keeping you well. Be grateful.
Write your intentions for the New Year
Not a resolution, but an invitation for who you want to be for yourself and for the world in 2016. What are your gifts you haven’t shared with the us yet? What did you sow in 2015, and what fruit do you want to pick in 2016? How will your life impact the cosmos that is your social and family circle. Do you want to be a more present daughter, teacher, husband? Are you ready to start the novel you’ve been putting off?
If you are in any way like me, I hope it’s not in the way that you offer advice when no one is asking. The holiday season is a time when we meet people we haven’t connected with in a while. And some of those people like to talk. About themselves. A lot. And they share as if they are asking. But honestly, they are just telling. So can you be a good listener this season? Just be there, maintain appropriate eye contact, allow yourself to feel what they feel, laugh when they laugh and get sad when they are sad. Let your brain rest from solutions. See how it goes.
Give your time like you don’t own a watch
I would love to play with my cousin, but I promised to finish cleaning the leaves on the porch before we open the gifts. Have you been there? You have a once in a while chance to really get immersed in play, getting to know a child in your family or taking a walk with someone you don’t see a lot, yet there is a list of chores and holiday “to-do” devils dancing in your head. I am inviting you to give your time differently this holiday, paying attention to what is happening in the moment, instead of what you think should be happening in the moment.
Pray for someone else
Gratitude reminds us of how much we receive in this life just by grace. Waking up and seeing the sun, noticing flowers on the way to work, the warm embrace of a loved one. The chance to be here another day in a life surrounded by ever present danger and unpredictability. You make it to work safe after driving with 20 000 other cars. The storm doesn’t break your windows. The fire never reaches your house. All by the grace of God, or the grace of nature, for those of you whose hearts don’t belong to a religious tradition.
As you soak in this realization, this holiday season find time to pray for someone else. If your prayer looks like wishing someone well, then so be it. If it has a format out of a prayer book, then so be it. Request grace for someone else, other than just for you. Those people who deserve it the least, need it the most.
Hug a lot
Touch is a powerful way to speak without words. A long hug where you focus on receiving the warmth and love and also focus on giving your support and attention, is a very different hug from the awkward uh-oh kind of hug that we often give around the holidays. The power of a hug to change our attitude, to help us de-stress, to allow us to be safe with others cannot be compared to a shiny wrapped gift. So hug a lot. And linger there.
Happy and blessed holidays!