Apart from this pandemic to end that has cost so many lives already, what do we most wish for these days? Apart from the stuff that we can buy with money … I think, the angels’ Christmas message in the Bible puts it pretty close to what every other religion in the world makes their claim, too. Peace on Earth.
These days, we are entering another period of holiday frenzy. In some parts of this nation, there are lockdowns in place. And between the limitations we experience and the holiday stress, political rifts and traditional prejudices, the nerves of many of us lie in tatters. Although we SHOULD experience the joy of Christmas whether we are believers or not. Instead, we hear of armed clashes between groups of what I dare call individual whims, of police having to interfere, of harsh words against people of a different opinion. And the Christmas message seems to fall on a lot of deaf ears.
How can we change this? How can we achieve this mighty not-to-be-bought peace?
I think we need to slow down a lot and ponder what creates happiness for us and what creates stress. Could we simply not overthink the outer appearance of Christmas or any other holiday we might be celebrating? Is it really about lights, glitz, and making one’s bank account scream? Can simpler work? Could we take ourselves down a notch and not try to be perfect for our family and friends? I think perfect people are rather intimidating, by the way. We don’t have to clean the house while baking a dozen different kinds of cookies, designing the perfect Christmas decoration, and getting the most luxurious gifts in the now most crowded stores.
How about we take a breath and sit back? Take a walk in the winter air? There are such beautiful areas around. Only recently, my husband and I discovered another park in the area and enjoyed an afternoon’s sunshine, walking through woods and wetlands. Or take up a book and read – maybe even to somebody else? Or sing along a CD or play an instrument – even better: perform music together with our family? Light a candle and think of childhood Christmases? Share these memories? Write them down for our family?
Taking speed out of the holiday preparations removes a lot of stress – which again creates a much friendlier atmosphere. Everybody needs friendliness. Love. If we think outside our individual selves, do we like others enough? Love them enough? Cherish them enough? When was the last time that we praised somebody’s work genuinely? Or told them they looked nice? Or how much we appreciate them in our lives? It’s a small gesture that may cause another person to feel warm. And that person might feel encouraged to hand that good feeling on to others.
Indeed, if we cared that everybody else wants to be loved and cherished just like we are, that might make for a strong beginning. A friendly hello to a passer-by on a sidewalk instead of glaring at them because they are walking too slowly or wear clothes that don’t fit our bill or … A smile that crinkles your eyes above your mask. A helping hand to reach something for somebody too small or disabled in a supermarket. A “Thank you, and Merry Christmas” to those who deliver our Christmas mail. I’m sure, everybody could make a list of how we can spread friendliness that doesn’t cost us more than moving a few facial muscles or a supportive hand.
And if we remember that what we deem our rights might diminish the rights of others, maybe we can compromise and find ways of communicating again instead of blasting obdurate slogans into each other’s faces. Or insults. Or even arm ourselves to our teeth.
We all want and need peace. And it starts in ourselves. So, let’s relax and look for the true meaning of Christmas. We can do it – if we let everybody be a little less perfect and feel a little more loved.