It’s family holiday time. A time that is rarely what it is expected to be. Movies portray it as peaceful, loving, warm, comfortable.
What it really is….chaos, conflict, discomfort, and challenge.
Let me share with you this story of how I learned how to enjoy the holidays instead of freaking out over them. It happened a few years ago in yoga class, at the beginning of class we are asked if we want to set an intention for the class. As I was working on improving my tolerance of stress, in order to reduce how stressed I felt, I set my intention to “embrace discomfort”. It wasn’t long before the universe answered my request perfectly. A tiny red spider began walking around my matt. My normal inclination would be to push or blow it away, but since today I was “embracing discomfort” I decided to let it move as it wished, and I would neither do anything to destroy it or move it, or move myself. I would continue my practice as if it wasn’t there. I couldn’t help but laugh at my discomfort, I hate bugs and most of all spiders. My internal laughter at the predicament I was in helped me cope with the stress I felt of this little spider wandering around the top of my matt in the middle of my practice. Both the spider and I wound up surviving the class, and I gained a powerful lesson.
I have hosted Thanksgiving for many years, and Thanksgiving involves a lot of house cleaning, cooking and organization. In the past, my children let me know that they did their best to avoid me during these family events because I would become a crazed lunatic. I would organize things just so and freak out and yell when people messed up the table before the company would come, or make something dirty I just cleaned. And let me tell you about our family Thanksgiving. It involves a lot more chaos than most other people’s family events, as the men and boys of the family gather early to play football, come back sweaty and muddy and then all have to change and sometimes clean up. So how ridiculous was it of me to expect neat, tidy and organized? And with a little oven expect everything to be perfectly hot at the same time? I guess crazy, and crazy was how I acted trying to accomplish that. With the “gentle” prodding of my kids, I finally figured out why once the food was served, I was sitting by myself petting my dog. Who wanted to talk to me after I just was acting like a lunatic?
After that yoga class, I realized the importance and value of embracing the chaos, because I finally in my late stage of life, realized that it’s the family that is what’s important about thanksgiving. The family who still comes over to your house after you’ve screamed at them. The family who sit together even though they’ve been fighting for months. The food is actually not the point at all, it’s a time to celebrate that you still have each other in spite of all the mistakes you’ve made. Now I try to approach Thanksgiving in awe of the fact that people would still come to my house at all after all the bad behavior I’ve exhibited in past years. And that’s what the holidays are really more about. They’re about how we accept and care for each other, no matter how imperfect we are, and that’s really what there is to be grateful about.