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    HAPPYWALKER   36,874
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My Zen Christmas

Friday, December 07, 2012

Some people really enjoy the holiday season and do lots of decorating, baking, shopping & wrapping, sending out cards, and what-not. Some people hate it and do it anyway and become stressed to the max.

I gave up sending Christmas cards years ago...I think a phone call to out-of-towners and a personal visit to those nearby is so much better.

I have decorated less and less over the years. Last year was just candles in the windows and a wreath on the door, with a few special sentimental treasures on the mantel. It takes less time to do, takes up less space to store afterwards, and adds a little bit of festive without being overpowering.

Gift giving is at a minimum, which means no trips to the mall, no fighting crowds in stores or on the road, and no angst about what to get and will they like it. Also, no more staying up until midnight wrapping presents. The grandkids are older and appreciate money to go towards what they really want. DH and I either split the cost of a nice large item for the home or the cost of going away for a long weekend.

We've started a tradition of going to NYC for Christmas that I really enjoy. There is no place like the Big Apple that creates a more warm Christmas spirit. Last year we visited the 911 Memorial on Christmas Day and it was a very touching and spiritual experience for me. The following day we took a liesurely carriage ride in Central Park. Christmas is the most relaxing, unhurried time you'll ever experience in the city. My niece and her fiance just moved from Atlanta to Manhattan last October and we're going to enjoy a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with them, complete with homemade pierogies from my Slovak Russian heritage

I have baked less and less over recent years. All those different cookies on a huge platter were nice, but way too much. Less is definitely more when it comes to things like that. Better to indulge in moderation because it tastes so much better when it's not served up with a side of guilt. This year I'm limiting my baking to some white chocolate apricot scones to take to my niece's (which are delightful with coffee or tea).

My mom, my dad, and my sister have passed. I miss their physical presence this time of year and their spiritual presence is felt more strongly. It's hard not to visit the past to relive the happy moments I had with them. It's okay to visit if it's brief and warm, but lingering there too long makes it much too sad and unpleasant. I have to move on and appreciate the here and now. I have to focus on what I have, not what I have lost.

I am constantly changing as each year goes by; my hope is that I am evolving in a positive direction. I crave simplicity. I enjoy an uncluttered life. I don't need much - it's my wants that get in the way sometimes. I am working on taming my's a spontaneous compulsive thing when I want something. it's purely my childlike ego that feels it deserves this and that. I find that it passes if I just stop and take a deep breath instead of compulsively reacting to a momentary desire. So often I have purchased something I thought I couldn't live without, only to later toss it aside. It eventually would make its way into the yard sale. Having "things" gives temporary pleasure, but it's a never-ending stream of desire, like a bottom-less pit that never gets filled to the top. The more it continues, the less satisfaction is derived from it. It's exactly the same with food. In my experience, constant eating tends to dull my pleasure center. It takes more and more to make me feel satisfied. I feel it's better to eat enjoyable food and eat less. Ha! Much easier said than done, but I believe it to be a practice that can be acquired by mindfulness. Mindfulness in eating is not an easy trait either. My hope is that through meditation and continual awareness of all things that surround me I will be able to become more mindful in eating as well.

I chuckle to think back on all the years I would write out my New Year's Resolutions. The phrasing may have changed, but the two major themes were always losing weight and saving more money. They were the same year after year after year. Then I finally gave up on resolutions. I believe it's better to have daily intentions. A new practice I am working on is to start each morning writing out my intentions for that day. The very act of writing it out increases the chances of following through. Whatever comes to mind is okay. It can be something productive, something fun, something relaxing, or a combination of all these things. The point is to contemplate and plan the day such that it's a day of deliberate creation. The one thing we don't have an over-abundance of is time. Using the minutes wisely becomes more and more significant as we age. The older I get, the more I get a sense of how very fast time passes. Each day is a gift that must not be wasted.

I'm happy that I have transitioned from the hectic pace and disliking of the holidays to the now serene and simple holiday traditions. I used to say "I can't wait for the holidays to be over" and I would be relieved once January 1 arrived so things could get back to "normal". Now I feel tranquil as I cherish each moment of the day and do what gives me joy instead of what I feel is expected. I can fully immerse myself in the spirit of love, giving of oneself to family & cherished friends, and experiencing an ever-flowing appreciation of all that is. I now can say that I love the holiday season and feel more peaceful than ever during this time of the year, which continues to carry on throughout all the days that follow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKARINO 12/14/2012 10:01AM

    Thanks for these special words describing your experience, i am drawn to simplicity and its beauty also. I often think of the old maxim 'Less is more' and it's truth shines brighter for me each year. What a surprise that the huge metropolis of New York is such a wonderful place to be at Christmas! Now I know what time of year to go for a visit! Thanks for sharing.

Comment edited on: 12/14/2012 10:03:19 AM

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NOE1234 12/9/2012 1:29PM

    Well said. What a great read this time of year! Thanks for the gift of your words!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MATER88 12/8/2012 11:17PM

    I enjoyed your blog very much. I would like my holidays to be more like yours. As I get older I do try to treasure our children, their spouses, and our two beautiful granddaughters. I am still attracted to "shiny" things but I'm working on it. I have done better when my focus is on being content rather than happy. emoticon

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TERRRI 12/8/2012 12:13PM

    Beautiful blog and I can relate to all of it. I do enjoy baking a variety of stuff so I time it so that I can give at least 3/4s away and we are left with just a taste.

I read a plaque in a store the other day that read "When people become memories the memories become a treasure." I have also lost a number of people and some days I think of them and smile and other days I cry. I am working on only smiling because I figure when I cry I am crying over my loss and not them but when I smile it is because of the great memories.

I haven't wanted gifts for years and DH is finally getting it - I hope.

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LIV2RIDE 12/8/2012 7:44AM

    It's nice to get back to a simpler time and enjoy the people we are with instead of all the material things Christmas has become. I think a lot of people are scaling down and doing things in an easier zen type of way. I'm also working on taming the "want monster" inside me. I am getting better at not buying things just because I want them. It's such a hard thing to do sometimes but easier than decluttering my house and having a sale. Merry Christmas!

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MAZZYR 12/8/2012 6:24AM

    Oh Mary, what a beautiful blog. The peace and serenity are coming through cyber space.

I have become a minimalist and I love it. Lol, in fact too much stuff makes me uncomfortable. It's nice when you make your own rules and focus on the joy of what you have.

Happy holidays, dear Mary.


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HEALTHY4ME 12/7/2012 5:25PM

    Mary I too have really scaled down haven't done any baking and not sure I will, probably some wheat free and natural sugar ( dates etc) balls but not much more. We bought 1 can of Lindor lindt choc. and thats it. I don't want it in house and know that those that visit which are super few, dont need it either.
I still get very down and don't want to "Do" christmas but I do. Not extravagant etc. and like it after just the thought of getting it done. Anyway it will be fine and I will enjoy it.
HUGS and glad you sound more peaceful. Merry Christmas.

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SERVINGTHRUPT 12/7/2012 4:43PM

    AMEN Mary! You've described our Christmas too. We started it as the children moved on & started their own traditions with their families, and things really shifted even more when we moved to CO and now... with it being just John & I, in 85 degrees, it feels even less like Christmas.

So, we'll enjoy celebrating THE reason for the season in a peace-filled manner.

Wishing you & yours a blessed Christmas.

Kiko :)

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I_GOT_THIS_ 12/7/2012 1:09PM

    I am right there with you! Less clutter. More simplicity. Much more mindfulness and enjoyment.

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MAGGIEVAN 12/7/2012 1:00PM

    You are describing my life and our Christmas season. It is not about the decorations or presents. It is all about peace in your heart.

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