Monday, December 11, 2006

Mid December musings

No, that's not our tree...but our tree is up and decorated with the almost 30 years of ornaments that my husband and I have collected. I am trying not to think of it as one more thing off of my December "to do" list. I have to admit that I often feel abit overwhelmed in December -- both as a minister and as a member of a multifaith family.

We have been cutting down our holiday tree at the Audubon Society with another family for the past 18 years; it’s one of my favorite rituals. We invite a family of Jewish friends over each year to help us decorate the tree. We play dreidel, make latkes, go into New York City to see the trees and windows, and open stockings while eating cinnamon buns on Christmas morning. We do something to serve others during the holiday.

Rituals offer us a sense of community and continuity and a way to celebrate our faith. But, I think we also need to give ourselves permission to let go of some of them if they no longer make us happy. I've decided that I am not going to write a newsy holiday letter this year. My house will not be perfectly decorated. I am not baking cookies or making big holiday meals. My gift list is considerably shorter. Take a minute to think about what you can do to make the next month simpler and less stressful.

For me, I will remember to breathe and exercise and make sure I follow through on my good intention of daily spiritual practice. I am making a public commitment here to do what sustains me and let go of the “shoulds.” As someone once said to me, “we need to stop shoulding on ourselves.” I remind myself it is time with people I love that is most important this season – and always.

I hope you will take that time -- as well as time for yourself. I had my coffee in front of the lit tree this morning; it was a good way to start the week.


Pam said...

Wow, Rev. Haffner - I REALLY needed the reminder this morning to breathe and exercise and keep up my spiritual practice during the holidays. I am thinking of you drinking your coffee in front of a beautiful tree and re-committing to slowing down and drinking MY coffee in front of something beautiful (our tree is not up yet - I have three young sons, 8,5 and 1 - trees don't last too long in our house so we have to hold off on putting one up our ornaments quickly turn into teething toys, balls or other kind of flying - or shattering - objects).

But I am going to join you in spirit here. Even with no tree, I can find something of beauty (even my little boys, God bless 'em!) to gaze on to focus on the important today. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement to do so.

Blessings to you during this season of preparation.

Cassandra said...

This reminds me of a ritual I decided not to continue once I grew up and had my own Christmas tree. My Mother, God bless her, excels at being frugal. Every Christmas, we careful decorated our tree with single strands of tinsel in addition to other ornaments. After Christmas, my brother and I were instructed to carefully remove each strand of tinsel, returning it to the original package to be used for next year's tree. It caused no end of arguments and resistance. All of this could have been avoided had we spent a mere $.50 on a new box of tinsel. In light of all this, my Christmas trees will never see a single strand of tinsel on them. What a relief!

My husband and I are starting our own Christmas traditions now and they are especially important now that we have a new one to share them with this year.

Thanks for the Christmas musings!