The holidays feel so different this year. I’ve heard everything from “It doesn’t seem like the holidays,” to “I just don’t feel like celebrating,” to “I’m trying to act normal but nothing is normal.”
Nothing is normal. Not even close
I’ve been looking around, wondering what is at the heart of these struggles, and what I’ve come up with is expectations.
If you’re anything like me, maybe you experience expectations like this…
I expect that I will be with certain people, in person, for the holidays.
I expect to hug them.
I expect to cook special meals together without face coverings and empty space between chairs.
I expect to go holiday parties and gatherings without worrying about attending as a moral decision. To go or not to go? That’s a lot of pressure for a glass of champagne and a couple of snacks.
The truth is I didn’t expect things to be so wildly different this year.
I didn’t expect a pandemic as the ultimate pattern interrupt.
I didn’t expect to experience a state of almost constant anxiety about health, the economy, and the future.
I didn’t expect to spend the holidays apart from most of the people I love.
I didn’t expect another round of looming lockdowns.
And yet, here we are. So what can we do about it?
I think we are going to have to abandon our expectations this year and just allow what IS to happen.
It’s kind of freeing, actually.
Wait. We can let go of worrying about everything being different? I say yes.
The new mantra? Just. Step. Back.
It’s true there might be a thousand little heartbreaks. A thousand potential sadnesses. But there are also a thousand miracles waiting for us to notice them. A thousand healings that are coming to us if only we can recognize them as such.
The sun rising on another beautiful morning.
The lack of social commitments and obligations during a time of year that is usually overrun with them.
The peace of sitting with a hot cup of tea, enjoying the quiet festivity of my own holiday lights.
The snuggle with my fluffy pup.
The video cocktail hour with my family far away.
The extra notes I took time to send this year, telling people how much I love them.
I think we have to slow down and step back from all of our expectations and allow this holiday season to be reframed and reborn. I’m convinced it’s the only way we can find some actual enjoyment. And the holidays shouldn’t be torture. Well, I have to say some of my previous holidays actually kind of were torture, but that’s another conversation.
For now, I find myself seeking terms of surrender.
Surrender? Does this mean giving in?
Not giving in to grief or darkness or despair, but rather surrendering to the circumstances, allowing them to evolve, exactly as they are. This is the moment that is, rather than the moment that might have been. So yes, it’s a different sort of holiday this year. But I think that we can find a way to find peace and acceptance in this particular moment rather than missing the moment we might have imagined. This is sanctuary in daily practice.
Stephen Hawking was onto something when he said that, “when one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.”
So tell me, what are you appreciating? What is standing out in sharp relief for you, in your life? I so want to hear.
With love and gratitude,