I am rushing through the holiday season. I don’t want this to be the case. I want the Christmas season to be simple, serene, and chaos-free. Instead, my family still is organizing multiple family get-togethers to accommodate various schedules, arranging for a surprise gift for my youngest son, wrapping nearly all the gifts, and buying stocking stuffers – on top of finishing deadlines at work. I don’t want to complain; I treasure the time spent with family and having my oldest son home from college. Nevertheless, it’s a bit much.
As we rush around the dark streets making all these preparations (just yesterday was the shortest day of the year) it is wise to recall a peaceful image – a vision that you can count on to slow your heart rate and calm your mind. For some, that image may be of the Christ Child, asleep in the manger. Perhaps you recall the loving, wrinkled face of a relative who has passed, but whose legacy is remembered, especially at Christmas. Maybe the New Year will bring you to a special destination, and those pleasant thoughts help you focus. Or perhaps you have a mantra, an “Om” or phrase that helps you center in stressful times. (Mine is the epigraph from E.M. Forster’s “Howard’s End” — “Only Connect.”)
My family finds comfort in our pets and it is this image, snapped of our 4-year-old Mountain Cur dog Jed, snoozing in front of the fireplace, that is reminding me to slow down. Jed’s plans for the holiday? Chase the cats around, curl up with them on the heated bathroom floor, sleep in front of the fireplace, bring us his rope toy for play, get a bath, signal front porch deliveries with a bark, and enjoy getting scratched and petted.