Have you noticed that the holidays are a bit of a seesaw of emotions? Personally I go from moments of anxious anticipation to moments of pure joy and everything in between. I go from moments of grieving those lost to moments of celebrating new connections. I go from moments of gratitude to moments of guilt. And sometimes, I can't help but ask myself why? Why do we go through weeks of elaborate planning and execution to celebrate our love when it could be as simple as walking over and giving a hug? How do all of these celebrations and gifts really reflect the true miracle of the season?
What is all of this even about?
While I do put presents under our tree for my children to open on Christmas morning, I don't want them to equate this holiday celebration to an expectation for "things". I want them to recognize the magic of believing... the magic of trust... the magic of hope. Not the kind of magic that ensures you will always get what you want... the kind of magic that allows you to trust the blessing in what IS, whether or not it matches that expectation.
The season is about HOPE. And whether you are a child who believes in the magical giving soul of Santa Claus, or a Christian who needs the birth of a loving Savior to redeem your soul... there is magic here. Both of these figures represent an unconditional love. While modern language may have you believe that hope is an expectation or a desire, which may have you grappling for the "perfect" gift to meet it, archaically "hope" means trust. Hope is a TRUST... a recognition of the love that is continuously flowing into all that IS and the ability of each and every heart to open to it. Hope is an opening in the conscious barriers we have created to block that flow. Hope lets light in. Hope trusts that all things are exactly as they need to be for the good of the whole, even when we don't fully understand them. The magic of reindeer flying and a Savior in a manger both encourage that opening... the recognition that there is good, that there is love, that there is possibility (even in darkness)!
Hope is not an expectation that things will get better. Hope is a trust that there is good right here in how things are. And where is hope most needed and most useful? Right in the middle of all those fluctuations! Hope (trust in that greater love unfolding) is a constant light guiding us through all of life's transitions, even the frantic seesaw of emotions we so often shake up around this season. It isn't a wish for all of that fluctuation to go away; it's an opening to how we can grow through it.
So yes, the holiday has a way of taking us from one extreme to another. Some years we worry that we do not have enough to adequately express our love and other years we may feel that we've gone a little bit overboard. Sometimes we feel like we have to or are expected to show our love through gifts and other times we struggle with the idea that gifts are unnecessary. Some moments we look forward to the family get together and other moments we are not sure we will survive it! Some moments we are grateful for those who are present and some moments we cry for those we miss. If you are like me, sometimes you wonder what the point of all of this really is... Maybe we create the chaos of all of this preparation and celebration in order to teach ourselves the way through it. Maybe we know that we need that reminder to open. Create your holiday in a way that honors your values and celebrates your joy. I focus my holiday on love. I focus my holiday on hope. I focus my holiday on celebrating the love that is born in the heart of every man, and releasing all of my need to control in the trust that all of that love IS coming to fruition.
Through all of the fluctuation, LOVE is available. HOPE is abundant. Let the magic of unconditional love as represented by both Baby Jesus and Jolly Santa Claus move through you. Allow that TRUST. Allow that flow. Remember, the magnitude of love in your life is NEVER measured by the size or quality of a gift. Love is infinite. Love is endless. Love is ALWAYS ENOUGH.