Do Better December 24th 2014 The Christmas I Choose to Have

24 Dec

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For those of us who celebrate Christmas, today is Christmas Eve. For us, it’s the day when my husband’s family gathers at my sister in law’s house, all 70 to 80 of us. We have four generations with one mom, nine children, most of whom have significant others, twenty eight grandchildren, some of whom have significant others, and over 30 great grandchildren, with a few significant others. There is pandemonium and chaos and tons of fun. Gifts, hugs and teasing are the order of the day, and I always leave there smiling, not because of any gift I get, but because of the love that is shared. On Christmas morning, I celebrate with my immediate family. I spend time with my all of my boys together, which is a rare treat with jobs, girlfriends and school. We have a quiet morning filled with the same love, laughter and teasing, and I feel the blessing of the season. Then it’s time to host the grandmas for a quiet and relaxing afternoon. It may not sound like much, but I love it. It’s not about the gifts. It’s not about the parties. It’s about spending time with the ones I love, especially the ones I don’t see as much as I would like. It’s about re-connecting and just being. Some years I do it with more grace than others, and this year has been one of the more graceful.

I don’t know why this year is different. Maybe it’s because I’m acutely aware of others’ suffering this year. I know so many who are struggling with strained relationships, loss of a loved one or serious illness. It makes my problems of figuring out gifts and logistics seem small and nothing to get worked up about. It makes me look at my home and realize it doesn’t have to be immaculate to host a loving and fun gathering. It just has to be presentable. It makes me look in the mirror and understand that my body doesn’t have to be model thin or even thin at all to be worthy because love isn’t measured in pounds. It used to be that I compared my life to others’ and wondered what I might be missing. I would look at the things they had that I thought I wanted and my life never seemed to measure up. It was sad and defeating to do that, so I stopped. I changed my focus and changed my life.

Now instead of looking at what I lack, I move toward what I want. It may seem like the same thing, but I assure you it isn’t. There is a difference in looking at your bank account in misery because you wish it was bigger and looking at that same number as a starting point of building wealth. There is a difference between looking in the mirror and criticizing your body and choosing to eat healthier and move more. There is a huge difference in looking at what others have in terms of what you lack and looking at your own life and deciding what you would like to add. This holiday season has been about being peaceful and kind rather than drivingly focused and controlling. It’s been a season of doing what I can and letting go of the rest. It’s been about releasing resistance to those things I can do nothing about and just going with the flow, and most of the time, it has actually worked this season.

I don’t share any of this to brag or even say that anyone should aspire to be like me. I share it because I’m guessing there are at least a few people out there who would like to have a more peaceful holiday season next year or even now. I want them to know it is possible to do that. I want everyone to know that although there may be moments of stress, the tone of the season can be peaceful. It has nothing to do with anyone else. It has to do with you and sometimes the most amazing thing you can do is learn to say no. You do not have to attend every party you are invited to. You do not have to give everyone, including the mail carrier and the garbage workers, a gift. You do not have to cook a twelve course meal, from scratch, and serve it on twelve different styles of china. You do not have to live up to anyone else’s expectations of you but your own. What will help you immensely is to choose which activities and actions will bring you joy and pursue them with all your heart.

I love getting Christmas cards and I love sending them out. Guess what? They don’t always go out before Christmas, including this year. Does that make me a bad person? No, it makes me a person who sails through the holidays with a little less stress. I love hosting my family on Christmas Day. I cook a simple meal with ham, lima beans, corn and sometimes homemade bread. My mom brings au gratin potatoes and we have Christmas cookies for dessert. These are foods that we enjoy, and they are easy to prepare. This year, we are even eating on disposable plates so clean up is easier. Our gifts are simple and practical and mostly within our budget. Peace reigns throughout the house, most of the time. We are better rested than we’ve ever been and life is good. I’ve stopped trying to top the best Christmas we have ever had because when you give each day your best effort, your best life is every day and doesn’t depend on one or two days per year. Yes, I want people to enjoy the gifts I buy, the food I cook and the time they spend with me; and the best way to make that happen is to live from the heart every day of my life. When I do that, I buy gifts that bring joy instead of grabbing whatever is available. I cook with love and everyone who has a passion for cooking will tell you that’s how you make your food taste best. I can truly enjoy those I spend time with because I focus on what’s in front of me rather than the giant to do list in the other room. It keeps me sane, grounded and peaceful and during this time of year, that is a priceless commodity.

As those of you who celebrate go through today and tomorrow, think of what will bring you peace and then do it. It isn’t about pleasing your parents, spouse or children. It’s about feeling the peace of the season in your own spirit. Until you do that, you won’t please anyone. Find your peace and you will change your brain chemistry and your bodily functions for the better. You will change your outlook on every activity, and you will uplift your spirit and the spirits of everyone you encounter. Take a deep breath. Forgive yourself for whatever you think you may be lacking and focus on what you want and can accomplish without losing your balance. Just thinking about that helps me some days, and I hope it helps you too. Tomorrow, I will be taking a day off of Do Better December to spend it with my family. If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas filled with love and joy. If Christmas is not part of your life, I wish you a terrific Thursday still filled with love and joy. I will think of you and pray for you, and I’ll be back on Friday for some post-Christmas thoughts. Until then, choose well and be well. Thanks for being you and have a great day.


One Response to “Do Better December 24th 2014 The Christmas I Choose to Have”


  1. Do Better December 24th 2014 The Christmas I Choose to Have | karenbemmes aka Better Living Daily - December 24, 2014

    […] Do Better December 24th 2014 The Christmas I Choose to Have. […]

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