2500 years ago the Buddha saw that human life was made of suffering. He also realized that this suffering was caused by our attachments. We hold to an ideal or expectation of how our life should be and when reality doesn’t match it, we feel pain.
When we look at the world with the blinders of expectation on, we cannot see the wonders that are trying to manifest right now; the beauty in the present moment. We only see what we don’t have. The Divine can only work through us in the present moment. When we only focus on what is not there, not only are we disappointed, we are also not open to opportunities that are there.
We all have attachments to things being a certain way and the holidays seem to make these expectations more obvious. This time of year has so many “traditions,” which can be fun and enjoyable, yet they can also bring stress and become a kind of prison of requirement, keeping us from developing new traditions and enjoying new possibilities. We have the belief that, “It can’t be Christmas without grandma's casserole or the Christmas village.” All of these, “Have to’s” bring stress and take away from the actual experience. I invite you to step back from the "have to’s" and decide each moment what would bring you joy. Doing this relieves so much stress and makes your holidays more conscious, bringing in more awareness of the present moment, instead of going through the motions of habit.
I am not saying we should drop all traditions. Instead, we can choose to do what fills us with joy this year and not stress about following all the traditions. We cannot recreate the past, the vibrancy of God is only in the present moment. What was magical when your children were little needs to evolve as they grow. Each year I ask my grown children what they would like to do for the holidays. Each year is different. Some years they are nostalgic and want to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol with me and some years they want to watch Die Hard and play video games. The point is, we get to choose what brings us joy right now.
We have the freedom to choose how we experience the present moment. When we tap into the Divine moving through us we feel a sense of aliveness, joy, and peace we do not feel when we are stuck in disappointment with the way things are.
One of our family traditions is, that on the day after Thanksgiving we go out and cut down our tree. I bring a thermos of hot chocolate that we drink at the car as we strap the tree on top. When we get back home, Jim puts on Christmas music and we decorate the tree. We have all these special ornaments, some the boys made when they were little, some we’ve collected over the years, some were my grandparents. Then we have soup and play board games or watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.
This year, my youngest, Sam is living in Maine, my oldest, Ian is not interested in any of it (except maybe the board games) and we have a kitten who likes to eat things. So Jim and I got our Forest Service permit, went out together and found a beautiful tree. It was nice to talk on the drive and tromp through the woods together. Jim and Ian brought the tree into the house and set it up. Because of the kitten we decided we would just have lights on our tree and I put them up by myself. We all have our own space in our house and I spend most of my time where the tree is. It doesn’t look like it usually does, but I love it! We have the LED lights that you can leave on all the time. I wake up in the morning and it's totally dark outside and all I see is this beautiful lighted tree. I’ve really been enjoying it without any other decorations.
We all have so many traditions that we hold to and if this year doesn't provide the ability to keep those traditions, I invite you to embrace what you do have this year. Celebrate how beautiful the tree looks without ornaments, how much fun you can have with neighbors instead of your children. Christmas is going to be different, life is about change and we suffer when we are not willing to change with it.
I invite you to play with the idea of releasing your attachments to things being a certain way and embrace the Divine moving through your life right now. Feel that flow of life force energy that comes from being open, that comes from being willing to accept and celebrate whatever comes your way.
Look for the blessings,