The Christmas season is one of joy, and angst. We long to have a meaningful, simple Christmas season, but we get sucked into consumerism and a Black Friday frenzy that spilled, this year, into Thursday.
Eleven months of the year, we are pragmatists who believe frozen pizza is a nutritious meal, since it includes all the four food groups of our youth: grain, dairy, meat and veggie (never mind that all but veggie are now considered unhealthy). But in December, we suddenly think it’s a great idea to construct side dishes that need 12 ingredients, two from specialty stores.
The gap between our ideals and our reality stretches to an almost insurmountable divide in this lovely season, which means we go a little crazy. We lose perspective and get competitive, we go the opposite direction of what we really want, which is to simplify, to focus on what matters.
When it comes to the holidays, what happens to you? Do you step back from the fray? (if so, got any tips for the rest of us?) Or do you get your Martha Stewart on and start making hand-made ornaments and baking on a daily basis?
Stress happens when we focus too much on the future (what we have to get done, worrying about what might happen if we don’t get it done); or on the past (mistakes, regrets, family dysfunctions patterns that we fall back into during holiday gatherings).

We can lower our stress, and not feel so hurried, if we simply focus on the present moment. Right now, I’m sitting by the Christmas tree, peeking out at the snow which is still falling.

first good snow I’ve wrapped a couple of presents and baked a pan of bar cookies, and letting that be enough. I’m trying to just enjoy the quiet of a winter night, knowing that another busy week lies before me at work.

What do you need to do to slow down, to be present? To let go of the past, which you cannot change; and the future, which you cannot control. This moment is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.

Take a moment. Stop. Breathe. Look at the tree in your living room, lit and decorated. Or watch the snow fall outside. Thank God for the fact that you ate a meal today, that you’re not sleeping outdoors. Your life, flawed as it may be, is a gift. What can you, in this moment, choose to be grateful for?