?Like a kid at Christmas.? The popular saying conjures up a romanticized image: a couple of sweet children dancing excitedly around the Christmas tree, eyes wide at the pile of presents from Santa, faces alive with the magic and wonder of the season.
But what is a kid at Christmas really like? As parents?whether in films, TV, or real life?will agree, it involves a lot of waiting, a lot of whining, and a lot of when. Specifically, when will Christmas come? When will Santa get here? When can I eat the cookies? When can I open my presents (It’s already four in the morning on Christmas day, mom!)?
Oh, those silly kids, we laugh. But wait a minute. Are we much better?
Recently, I was chatting with a group of friends about the stresses of the season. ?Ugh, I can’t wait ?til the holidays are over,? someone groaned.
I think we all feel that way at times. ?Tis the season to be stressed out, right? With have-to-make-an-appearance parties, baking and cooking, tense family gatherings, decorating, and long lists of gift expectations all clamouring for our attention, even the fun parts of the holidays start seeming like obligations.
Maybe one of the reasons we’re so strung out come December 25 is that we’ve spent the whole month with our noses to the grindstone, all in frantic anticipation of an idea that we’re too physically and emotionally exhausted to enjoy. We can’t really take pleasure in the small moments of the season because we’re so focused on achieving the perfect holiday. No wonder so many of us slump into the post-Christmas blues when the holidays are over.
This past weekend, I heard something that really struck a chord with me: that our über-connected world has lost the concept of waiting patiently. It makes sense. we’re accustomed to instant gratification in our communications; we can call, text, or email with one touch of a button. Want to know something? Google will have your answers in just a few seconds. Movies, games, music, shopping?all is available instantaneously. With the rising popularity of smart phones, we truly have the whole world in one hand. And whatever we want, we can have now.
Of course, problems arise when we start taking our ?on-demand? expectations into the physical world, and I think our need-it-now philosophy has spilled into many areas of our lives. It’s especially apparent during the holiday season.
After all, there are a lot more expectations . . . and a lot more holdups. That means there’s also a lot more frustration, anxiety, and anger during a season That’s supposed to be about peace and love.
For example, how many times this month did we fume silently (or to a friend) when held up at checkout for five minutes too long? Or sneer at the newbie cashier who got our order wrong the first time? Or swear at the driver whose slow speeds meant we got stuck at a red light for a whole 45 seconds?
We already know that in the scheme of things, those short time periods really don’t matter. But we’ve become so accustomed to getting what we want when we want it, that any deviation from that ?norm? is cause for frustration and even anger.
Sometimes, we just need to pause and regain our lost perspective.
So this holiday season, let’s really savour our time?both the busy and the fast-paced and the slow, ?dead? moments. The moments of waiting don’t need to be periods of frustration, stress, and the like. They can be opportunities for meditation, for granting a smile or friendly word to a passer-by or fellow shopper, or even for just pausing a moment, closing our eyes, and going inside our minds for a small space of quiet.
Time will march on, and the holidays will soon be over. We won’t remember the guy who cut us off in traffic or the indecisive lady in the checkout line. But the little times of quiet, peace, and joy? Those are the memories that we’ll carry with us long past the season.