Monday, December 10, 2012

Finding Quiet in the Holiday Cheer

The Holidays are rolling in full steam ahead, and my to-do list is getting longer and longer!  I honestly love the hustle and bustle of the season, and a day jam-packed with things to do makes me feel energized and positive, so this is NOT a problem for me, but like everyone else celebrating not just a time to show love and appreciation to family and friends, but an occasion of deep religious significance, I still need to carve out time to unplug from the busy and find stillness for my soul.

This is where things like expressing gratitude for the joy and peace they give me to my cats, and decorating the tree with colorful lights and ornaments given to us by beloved family and friends come into play as vital holiday spiritual exercises!  Nothing snaps me to zen faster than having a purring cat on either side of me.  I can't walk by our fully decorated tree without taking a pause and remembering the sacredness of this time of year.  We just got our tree yesterday, and at 7 1/2 feet tall, he's a dramatic reminder of the eternal life promised to us thanks to the gift of a certain baby, conceived out of wedlock, and born into poverty.  So far he's just making the place smell amazing, since we haven't gotten the decorations up yet, but I look forward to doing that tonight!
 What traditions do you have built in that give you a chance to connect to the spiritual meaning of this season?  Baking cookies allows ten or more minutes of downtime to inhale the sweet scent and reflect, as each batch is transformed by the fire of the oven into something special to share with loved ones.  Wrapping gifts is a chance to bring to mind all that inspires you about the intended receiver, and even all that might leave you feeling frustrated or less than generous.  As you fold the paper, add positive intentions and love for that person's growth and healing, and send a little your way, too, to enhance your ability to see the best in others, and find compassion and acceptance.
Here are some cute pictures of our kitty checking out her first Christmas tree!
 It's easy for me to think of ways to cultivate an awareness of the Divine into Christmas tradition, but I know a lot less about Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, and Solstice celebrations.  While religious ceremonies associated with these days are immediate inroads to our spiritual side, none of us can resist the more commercialized side of the holidays, and there's no reason to.  We can still keep love and spiritual growth first and foremost in our hearts.

What fun ways of celebrating help you connect more fully with your spiritual practices this time of year?  Do unique family traditions help you remember what really matters?  Does a special recipe make you grateful for your ancestors?  Maybe a silly party game reminds you to find joy in all you do.
Start getting contemplative now, before the rush really starts.  You'll be glad you did
And Happy Holidays!  Not because there's anything wrong with saying "Merry Christmas", but because there's no reason we can't enjoy them all!
Live Omily,
~em

2 comments:

  1. Great tree, Omily! It looks so lush and beautiful. xo style, she wrote

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  2. Thanks! We were so lucky, too: the school near us was selling them as a fundraiser with free delivery and set-up!!

    ~em

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