Can you feel it?
Yes, December has a feeling.
It can feel like overwhelm – there’s so much to get done and so little time.
It can feel like failure – we’re nearing the end of the year and I haven’t quite gotten to that list of resolutions.
It can feel like hyper-organization (or, if I’m honest, like the lack thereof) – there are lists upon lists to be compiled and executed. Lists of gifts. Lists of events. Lists of things left undone.
What can we do when the most magical time of the year feels more like an illusion that is easily missed in the blink of an eye? I have found that the answer lies in approaching the holiday season with intention. When we become aware of the things that make us feel rushed, stressed and stretched thin, we become better equipped to make choices that allow us to slow our pace and fully live each moment that we are given.
There are many things that we can do to steady our pace at this time. These happen to be some of my favorites:
1. We can say no.
This was always a tough one for me. I used to believe that to truly make the most of the season, I had to squeeze the most out of myself.
A December calendar can be more lit up than a Christmas tree if left unchecked. There are so many events. We have so many obligations. Excess seems to be the theme. Excessive spending. Excessive invitations. Excessive exhaustion.
What I had to realize, however, is that by saying ‘yes’ to one thing, I was inherently saying ‘no’ to another. By saying ‘yes’ to everyone else, I was saying ‘no’ to myself. Yes, I wanted to take part in festivities and enjoy long-standing traditions; but I also wanted to spend quiet moments sitting under the lights of my own tree and creating memories that were meaningful for those closest to me.
I could never accomplish that by saying ‘yes’ to everything else. The word ‘no’ became the key to making that happen.
2. We can notice.
We’ve always been told that in order to truly enjoy life we need to stop and smell the roses. The problem, however, is that in order to smell the roses, we must first see the roses.
So many times we move so quickly that we don’t notice the little things that surround us. Think of driving on the highway: it’s easy to see the big billboards and grand buildings. We will even notice other vehicles zooming by. But that’s about it. We see the big. We see the grand.
But do we notice the details? Do we see new life sprouting on the grass? Do we notice the faces of those who hurry past us? Sure, this may be an exaggerated example…or is it really?
If we’re honest, we don’t need to be in a car in order to speed through our day. Sometimes, we are so busy and so rushed that we only see the big and the grand. There is so much that is missed when we move with haste. When we propose in our hearts to really notice our surroundings – to take the time to really see, hear, and understand what is happening in each moment – our pace necessarily slows.
When we are attentively attuned to what we are doing, with whom we are speaking, and what we are noticing, we bring a level of calm to our experience that could never be attained in the height of distraction.
3. We can give more presence.
Presence under the tree is not just a play on words, it is a challenge to the status quo. In a season marked by bountiful gift-giving, we can purpose to practice an unexpected form of generosity: one where we lavish our time and attention on the people in our lives.
This type of gift-giving, incidentally, happens to be life-giving as well – for both the giver and the recipient. When we tune out the distractions around us, we can lend ourselves fully to those in front of us. When we silence the noise inside us, we can wholly experience the moment gifted to us.
4. We can let go.
There is no perfect decor. No ideal family portrait. No flawless tradition. There are, however, priceless memories. Treasured moments. Invaluable pockets of time spent with those we love. When we let go of the need to be in control of everything happening around us, we open our hands and our hearts to the beauty that is found in simply letting ourselves be.
This season doesn’t need to fly by in a flash. It is possible to move slowly. It is possible to move with purpose. It is possible to mark our calendar with intention, yet fully experience the magic that permeates this time of the year. I used to wish that time would slow down so that I could enjoy the season. Then, one day, I decided that I would slow down instead. That has made all the difference.
Moving slowly allows us to really notice what is happening around us, and it affords us a feeling of presence. A feeling of peace. A feeling of contentment. A feeling of abundance.
There’s no pace that feels quite like slow, especially during the holidays.
And yes, slow has a feeling.
…Can you feel it?
About the Author: Hailing from a small island in the Caribbean, Angelina Lee is a wife, mother of three, and Attorney-at-Law. After her Plan A life left her wanting more, she is exploring her Plan Be in which she tries to live more intentionally.