So December is flying by at its usual alarming rate and as I sit here at my desk looking outside into the woods, I am struck by the absolute calmness that is there. There is a giant beech tree in front of me, with a handful of fawn-colored leaves still hanging onto many of the lower branches but not one of them is moving. There is no breeze and no indication whatsoever of the hustle and bustle that is surely happening just a few miles down the road. People everywhere are likely preparing for the holiday, making cookies, shopping, sending packages, decorating the house–all those things that we tend to do every year to make the holiday special.
So before the month is gone and we enter a new year, let me just suggest a few things to remember this holiday season.
1. Nature has no need to rush anything--let’s take a lesson from this and adopt an attitude of patience and tolerance, especially during the holiday. Everywhere you look there seems to be lots of people rushing around and trying to conquer their endless lists. When we find ourselves in a situation where we are not making the progress we expected–like in line at the post office or grocery store– let’s remember Mother Nature and the way the natural world just lets things happen, as they will, in whatever speed is appropriate. It’s okay if it takes five minutes longer!
2 . Bring joy to the lives of others. One of my favorite birds is the Carolina Wren for a number of reasons, one of which is how the male belts out his melodious tune in such a way that shocks me every time that such a small bird can make such a BIG sound. One sang a few notes recently, stopping me in my tracks and making my heart smile with joy.
We can do that too!
We can let our happiness and good cheer spill out and affect others. We can bring the same joy with a thoughtful compliment, a kind word or even a genuine smile. You hardly ever know the circumstances of another’s life and certainly not the pain he or she might be going through. It is easy to offer a bit of yourself and may make an enormous difference.
3. Count your blessings. For many years I lived adjacent to a large wetland in eastern New York State and spent hours exploring the frozen river during winter. One thing that always made me smile was that when I found coyote tracks, there were almost always two sets of them, running or walking along, side by side. When I picture them, I smile, thinking of the pair moving together, soundlessly, through the dark night. We all probably have people in our lives like that–people who are part of our story, sharing our triumphs and our tragedies. Let’s remember to thank them and to recognize the many ways we are blessed.
4. Give the gift of your time. This season is so materialistic, with commercial after commercial suggesting the “perfect” gift for our loved ones.
We need to realize the only “perfect” gift is the gift of our time.
Take time to call an old friend, visit someone you haven’t seen in a long time, make cookies for your neighbor. There is so much we can do to make the holiday brighter for someone else and it does’t require any money, just kindness and time.
5. And lastly--There is so much beauty in our world. Sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in our own schedules and lists that we don’t take a moment to just stop and DO NOTHING…. look out the window and appreciate the birds gathered on the feeder or notice the artful way the leaves decorate the gray branches or the way the leafless treetops reveal squirrel nests built with purpose. Let’s remember to stop long enough to NOTICE the beauty that is there, everyday, if only we pay attention to it.