Joy to the World

Driving home today, i passed 2 houses with decorated Christmas trees in their windows. It’s not even 2 weeks past Halloween. I don’t know why i’m surprised. There is a station here that has already gone to playing exclusively Christmas songs. Like, 24/7 Peggy Lee and the Chipmunks. And it makes me so sad.

Don’t get me wrong, i love Christmas. It’s just that there is a whole lot happening between now and then. Concentrating on something that is still a month and a half away somehow makes me wonder if we aren’t wasting all the days until then.

The most obvious potential loss is Thanksgiving. I mean, a holiday completely centered on gratitude and food… How absolutely wonderful is that? True, it has it’s origins in a terribly euro-centric and racist period in our history (John Stewart once put it perfectly: “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”) But over the years, as we examine the errors of our past, the holiday has come to be less about our stomping on the rights of indigenous peoples and more about being thankful for all that we have. For one whole day, we all stop whining and griping. I love it. But even excluding Turkey Day, there are Chanukah, the Solstice, Diwali, and probably a bunch of other holidays that i could google up that come before Rudolph charges his nose light.

Perhaps more important than the holidays, though, are all the things that will happen that aren’t pre-marked on the calendar by Hallmark. There will be birthdays. Children will come home with report cards, and science and art projects, and exams that deserve praise and celebration. There will be sports games, and sappy movies, and toasted marshmallows. There will be hugs and kisses from people important to you. There will be comforting snuggles from your pets and children. There will be delicious meals, happy coincidences, days that sing with the beauty of autumn. Perfect cups of coffee, nights spent in freshly washed sheets, and once-a-year notes from people of your past. The list goes on and on.

If we spend all our time wishing and preparing for something in the future, it will be easy for us to miss the great things in the present.

And before you say it, i do realize that this year brings its own challenges in finding joy. Gatherings with family and friends will be much smaller this year, and some will have to forgo it entirely. Kissing under the mistletoe will be exclusively with the one you’ve been kissing already (If you are lucky enough to have had someone to kiss.) And it’s hard to smell the fragrant smoke of a firepit if you have a mask on. Global pandemics suck. But they shouldn’t, and mustn’t, rob every bit of happiness from our lives. As humans, our souls needs those moments as much as our bodies need air to breathe. For those of us who suffer from depression, those moments are even more important. When we are stuck in a pit of despair, sometimes a clear night sky full of stars, a languorous bath, or a giggle from baby is all we need to get one foot on a ledge to climb out of that hole.

Little happy moments are magic.

So before you start going full-throttle into holiday preparations, take a moment to reflect and enjoy all the small morsels of joy that will happen between now and then. Maybe even create some of those moments for others. Write a note, take a walk with a friend, smile at a stranger. Make and take joy in those moments that are gifted to us each day. I can’t promise that every day will be grand, but even if your day has only one little silver lining, it’s a nugget that would have been missed if your mind were on next month. Just like the pocket coins that you keep in a big jar to turn in, the small change, small moments, add up to a whole lot after a while. Keep them.

Live well, my friends. Savor each moment. Christmas will come soon enough.

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