I’m proverbially “home for the holidays” for the Christmas holiday and my internal Christmas Grinch is barely under control. Managing this year’s holiday season is going to take a few resources for success! It feels like the ghosts of Christmas past and present are dreadfully reminding me of the benchmarks I haven’t met this year, on the road less traveled and the skid marks currently on my back (lol). Perhaps, some of you may have similar feelings. Holiday shopping, gathering and boundary setting may seem never-ending. While commercials often refer to this as the “most wonderful time of the year” the winter holiday season can offer up a multitude of experiences, tensions, and emotions in us.
We can deeply love our family but resent some of their frequent expectations of us.
We can deeply rejoice in our spiritual values and witness but feel unsure about the true value of Christmas.
We can deeply appreciate the housing, financial and other material successes and gains we have but also feel burdened to keep up with constant appearances.
I want to deeply encourage you all to recognize that binary thinking is often harmful. This time of year is the perfect time to remind ourselves that multiple truths can exist at one time. Practicing self-compassion and mindfulness is something that we need to embody year-round. I want to encourage myself (and you) that it’s okay that we don’t have all the Christmas cheer. In fact, I’d wager that to be completely cheerful as we are constantly navigating all the current circumstances may be a self-defeating practice. The holidays shouldn’t require us all to be divorced from the very real realities we are facing. On the contrary, Winter solstice offers wisdom and beckons us all to dig deeper.
The winter solstice of 2021 happens today (Dec. 21) and with it brings the official beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. According to Space.com:
The winter solstice marks the moment in Earth's orbit around the sun when the planet's South Pole is the most tilted towards the star. That means the Southern Hemisphere is receiving a lot of sunshine (and the start of its summer season) while the Northern Hemisphere is receiving much less. This effect is caused by the inclination of the axis around which Earth rotates with respect towards the plane of its orbit around the sun. On Earth, the effect can be observed as a regular shift of the path that the sun travels from East to West between sunrise and sunset.
One can imagine this moment holds a great deal of powerful wisdom for us. CNN’s David Allan remarks, “Winter is as much about going deep, as it is about finding our way back out the other side.” There is a great deal of depth that our busy lives keep us from. Moreover, the global pandemics of Covid-19 and racism have raised our bodies normal cortisol patterns and impacted our nation-wide sleep as well. Maybe digging deep seems like the scariest thing to do right now. Yet, I want to remind you of the wealth of benefits deep reflection can bring to our lives:
Deep reflection causes us to pay attention to our body’s rhythms
Deep reflection allows us to check in with our emotions
Deep reflection allows us to identify unmet desires and needs
Deep reflection allows us to engage in self-compassion
Deep reflection allows us to be present with ourselves and others
Deep reflection allows us to courageously confront our fears
Deep reflection allows us to create space for true rest
For most of us our most static position is one of constant movement and busyness. Yet, this season would beckon us to take a cue from the nature around us. Much life can be found in dormant seasons. Moreover, the time of deep rest and reflection can energize us in so many ways. Because on the other side of winter is spring. Spring presents us with new life and new opportunities. So instead of adding more demand to the season why not take the time to reflect on the importance of readying ourselves for forward motion by embracing a restful quiet.