Spend This December Wisely

I think our duty as writers begins not with our feelings, but with the powers of observing.” — Mary Oliver

How will you spend your time this year?

I suppose I am showing my age when I tell you I can remember when the holiday season began slowly in December the  giddy sense of excitement mounting as Christmas Day approached.

Decorations in homes and stores appeared in December and not before. Today there is a sense of frenzy that can be felt almost everywhere, beginning as early as Halloween. We drive from one mall to another and then rush from store to store in search of the best deals on this season’s “must have it”.  A sense of always being behind, and never quite catching up, causes people to feel anxious and surly and manifests itself as rudeness and sometimes out and out unkindness, the opposite of what this time of year is supposed to be.

December should be a time to observe what is happening to the people around you, to stop and take a close look at those you love. If you take the time to pay attention, and stop worrying about finding and then somehow paying for material things, I think that you will discover that December can be a magical month. The world outside is slowing down and taking a breath. We should take a lesson and follow suit.

If you are lucky enough to have children in your life, I think you will see that even more than that perfect toy, what they crave is your attention. This is your opportunity to make memories they will cherish forever, like creating snow angels or snow people or reading a holiday story in front of the fire. You might think about that the next time you buckle them into a car seat to haul them off to the mall one more time.

It is also a time to stop and remember that the elders in your life will not always be with you. Rather than one more pair of gloves or a scarf, take the time to sit and talk with them over a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Allow them the opportunity to recall with you past holidays they have enjoyed and the people they love who are no longer here. Become a keen observer. Study the faces of those around you. It is easy in December to overlook loneliness or anxiety in others because we are too busy shopping or doing to take the time to see it.

December is also the perfect time to take a few moments to cherish you. Find a moment to reconnect with your own favorite memories of the holiday season. Take a walk in the park or the woods with your dog rather than run through a parking lot. Read to a child. Laugh over a cup of tea with your mother or your brother and sister. Go sledding or skiing with your best friend or your cousin. Hug the person in your life you love best. Enjoy your cat being dazzled by the Christmas tree. Rather than reaching for your credit card, spend your time not your money and spend it wisely. You won’t be sorry you did. Instead of beginning the New Year dreading the arrival of the mailman, you will be able to embrace the excitement and unlimited opportunities unfolding before you.

What is your favorite holiday memory?