I didn’t open a present on Christmas day, and it was the best of Christmases. Here at the tail end of 2019, almost three years after a resolution to live more truly in alignment with myself, this Christmas was one of the first times in more years than I can count that I felt like me.
2019 was a hard year in a lot of different ways. Probably not my hardest year—especially in light of the past few years, but one that has felt like an overwhelming challenge- Here at the end 2019, I see this year for more what it was- a year of significant growth and change. Growth hurts. Change is not easy especially when it is personal change.
One of my resolutions from 2017 was that I needed to live more truly aligned to myself, my values; however, that required facing a lot of things about my life, myself, and making some of the most painful changes. In the blithe, New Year’s resolution tradition, I thought would manage that in a year. I certainly did make change, but I am still working toward that alignment with self. It has taken a lot of rebuilding. When I reflect on the past year, particularly the past six months, I could get caught up in the difficulty this year and be overwhelmed by it, but when I zoom out, I see this year in a different context and see the path, as winding as it is, to me.
This Christmas season, I made 12 dozen cupcakes and delivered them all over the place—to neighbors, to friends near and far. I only saw a sliver of the people who matter. But that time baking with a goal of bringing a little joy to people I care about is exactly who I am. With each delivery, I got to spend time with people who matter. Each visit became a moment in time, slowed down, outside the rush of the holiday, where that connection was what mattered. Each of those visits a moment of joy suspended in time.
I spent Christmas Eve visiting people, at an open house, making dinner for family—it didn’t matter that the dinner didn’t quite turn out. I never felt anything more than feeling present in each moment. My older son, who just got his license, drove his brother for dessert, not because there was nothing in the house (after all, there were dozens of cupcakes!!), but to spend time with him and care for him. They ended up snuggling on the couch watching Clone Wars together. This is rare with 6 years of age difference, but seeing them together, and caring for each other in a deep and authentic way, was a perfect gift.
Christmas Day included breakfast and kids opening presents with their father, my mother, quiche, cinnamon rolls, and laughter. It was a beautiful morning with family.
Christmas night, my mother and I joined friends and their family for dinner. Everything about it was joyful. The sense of connection and sincere goodwill lifted my spirits higher than I could have imagined.
I spent this holiday in the house I purchased with my mother earlier this year. This was our first Christmas here, and I built new practices with my children that I hope will become traditions—but even more, I felt like I made my house a home.
As I turn my gaze to 2020, I want to take with me the lessons of this season: connection, being present, deep listening, and expressing care for others. I made a comment the other day that I want to live life on my own terms, I realize now that I have not been sure what those terms are. This Christmas season I think those terms are just beginning to be formed. I don’t fully know what it means to live life on my own terms, but I feel like 2020 is the year to build toward that and those terms include:
- seeking joy,
- being present in each moment,
- valuing connections to people,
- committing to creativity,
- letting go of externally imposed expectation
- being willing to care
- committing to myself