Comfort and Joy

Thanks Hippie Peace Freaks

Thanks Hippie Peace Freaks

A big part of the holidays is about being joyful. Food, drink, decorations and presents are all designed to make children and grownups squeal with delight. We want those that we care about to be happy, and many of us will spend more money and time than we should trying to make that so.

Somewhere along the way, life offers up the lesson that there is no way to make someone else happy. You can make them more comfortable, or maybe make them smile for a minute. But no amount of gifts or favorite foods can make a sick child well, a grieving parent joyful, or a worried spouse content. You cannot cure the ennui in another soul, no matter how much you want to do so.

Thanks Sungazing

Thanks Sungazing

You also cannot make people behave thoughtfully. You simply can’t force them to get along, much less to like each other, if they don’t want to, no matter what day of the year it is. At best you can try to model patience and tolerance, and probably manage to keep from making an inflamed situation even worse. At worst, you get to learn the hard way that chastising family or guests for acting like children is a notoriously unsuccessful way to bring on the holiday cheer.

What can you do? I like the twin holiday concepts of comfort and joy. Offer comfort widely, liberally, and with lots of love. It won’t make everybody happy, of course. But it will make everybody more comfortable, and that may well lead to more joy. Just do what you can.

fireworks croppedAs to joy, let yourself feel it. You don’t do a single other soul any sort of favor by suffering along with them. Misery really does not like company. Rather, we are all a little contagious. If you are filled with happiness, you encourage others to allow themselves to find cheer within their own hearts. Embracing the joy inside yourself is the best gift you can give, both to yourself and to others.

Too much joy?

cakeOne of my clearest memories is eating too much frosting as child. It tasted so wonderfully sweet all by itself that I couldn’t stop shoving globs of it into my eager eight-year-old mouth. As you might guess, I was incredibly happy for a short while, and now decades later I still don’t care much for the stuff.

click to like Your Beautiful Life

click to like Your Beautiful Life

I’ve had a bit too much emotional frosting the past couple of weeks and am suffering from a similar need to go lie down. A major family thanksgiving gathering was followed immediately by a birthday celebration that was followed by the graduation of a family member that was rolled into about ten straight days filled with food and drink and visitors and it all was very wonderful but I’ve got a tummy ache that makes me wonder if sustained joy is particularly healthy.

I think about the nature of happiness a lot, given that the ability to experience joy is one of the central themes of my novel y1.

One can wax eloquent about how we need valleys in order to have hills and while that is true, I don’t think this translates into a truth that one must endure intermittent horrible sorrow in order to feel deep joy. Perhaps it is only necessary that great times are broken up with quiet times and my problem is simply one of overload. Obviously we all need a break from rich food and alcohol, but I think that we also need a break from noise and conversation, and time to process input. No matter how much we live in the moment, at some point we need to step out of the joys of that moment and regroup. It’s a human thing.

click to like Your True Voice

click to like Your True Voice

We also need unstructured time, to do the silly and unplanned. Gatherings with loved ones can provide that, but let’s face it, they usually don’t. Groups need a certain amount of order, at least when attending functions together, and all that structure wears one out after awhile.

Joy. It comes at you lots of ways. Some weeks it’s your sister from across the country and your kids all home for a holiday and the best restaurant in Austin Texas. Other times it’s nothing but salad and fresh fruit for a day and time spent staring into the fireplace at night. Maybe even lighting a fire there first.

 

 

Holiday stress? Celebrate in your own way

click to visit The Dalai Lama

click to visit The Dalai Lama on Facebook

I recently was part of a group who was asked to explain what about the holidays makes them so stressful. Others responded with very reasonable answers. Holidays bring back memories of those they miss. Holidays push them to spend money they don’t have, or take in calories they don’t need. I can identify with all of these, of course, as can most. But what popped into my mind first was that holidays push me to celebrate in ways I don’t particularly enjoy.

Odd. I am a grown woman and nobody makes me do anything I don’t want to do, at least not these days. Yet I feel pushed to honor traditions that don’t resonate with me. I don’t particularly like turkey, but will make one because some of the family cannot image Thanksgiving without this traditional dish. I will put up a tree because all three grown children will be home and how can we not have a Christmas tree. I will buy presents because everyone gets presents for Christmas, even though as a family we have all that we need, and so much of what we want, that we have trouble coming up with gift ideas.

Click to visit SpiritualShit on Facebook

Click to visit SpiritualShit on Facebook

Don’t misunderstand. There are holiday traditions at my house that I do love. We will have fresh artichokes and lobster for both feasts. We will each pick a game to play and hand out our presents after the family has humored us and played our game. That means I get to play ping pong AND eat lobster in the same day. I like my twinkly lights lining the porch, even while I find other decorations annoying. My expressions of Christmas spirit may have shrunk down to a short list over the years, but I don’t begrudge those few things I do love the time and energy that they require.

Click to visit Hippie Peace Freaks

Click to visit Hippie Peace Freaks

So how can I make the holidays more my own? No cards again. Ran out of oomph on those about four years ago when I started to write novels, and I don’t think a soul out there minds. Okay, I’ll do a small turkey. And a little tree. Some simple presents that are usable.

Why should I bother? Because the holidays are a time for love and I want all of my family to have some of what is special to them also. I’ll try to find that middle ground. I’ll try to learn which traditions, if any, the rest of family is every bit as happy as I am to forgo. I’ll try to fill the season with things that bring me joy. I’ll try to be cheerful about the compromises I choose to make, remembering that smiles on the faces of the people that I care about are one the greatest joys of the season.

Dancing for joy

dancing-for-joy

From Viva Institute, a site for nutritional counseling and holistic care of the mind, body and spirit. Please click on the image to visit the website.

It is the winter solstice, the time  in the northern hemisphere when nights are the longest and when the power of daylight begins once again to grow.  This celebration of the light reverberates throughout our holiday traditions as we collectively share the joy of the lengthening day.

Dancing for joy is a part of these rituals, and is so beautifully captured in images across the web.  I share one of my favorites here, from a holistic health site that I hope you will thank with a quick visit.

I also share my thanks for your visit to my blog, and with those thanks go my wishes to you for joy, for light and for dancing (and not necessary in that order) as you embrace or invent your own traditions of happiness and share them over the holidays with those that you love.