(Disclaimer: The above picture of triple-
distilled tequila is just a visual metaphor.)
To get the essence of something, you extract the purest part of the substance. This process can be done with all sorts of things like alcohol, oil and even holiday habits.
Customs and traditions. At their best, customs give our life a sense of stability. So much changes, but traditions can be counted on. They are reliable. To a fault.
When they lose their meaning… their heart and soul… the pulse that gave them life in the first place… when customs lose these things, they actually dehydrate the occasion. When we’re not mindful:
- Togetherness can degrade into shopping-debt.
- Peacefulness can degrade into performance.
- Graceful simplicity can degrade into complicated stress.
Every year, consumerism threatens to hijack the precious Soul of this Season. But mindfulness can stop that hijacking in its tracks.
All of the triggers and prompts to buy! buy! buy! can, instead, arouse within us a more conscious response. Let every advertisement serve as a reminder to extract Holiday Essence.
Distilling our actions. Below are my optimistic interpretations of seven popular holiday habits:
- Shopping/Buying = Our desire to give, bestow and endow others with the knowledge that they matter to us.
Parties/Getting Together = Our desire to connect and be in community with each other.
Cooking/Baking = Our desire to nourish and comfort others.
Wrapping Gifts/Decorating Trees = Our desire to add twinkling beauty, adornment and wonder to our environment.
Decorative Lights/Candles = Our desire to brighten the darkness from shorter days and possible loneliness or sadness. We illuminate our way.
Caroling/Singing = Our desire to fill our surroundings with cheer and contemplation. Song can carry us from bouncing euphoria to sacred stillness.
- Resolutions = Our desire to reflect, grow and expand our being. We reconcile Time’s wisdom. We bless what has been, what is, and what we would like to be.
There are many winter observances, with different origins in our shared humanity, including:
Retailers do not define this time of year. Nor does one particular belief system.
We each get to decide how we will manifest timeless virtues like:
We get to create meaning beyond merchandise. Beyond unrefreshed ritual and custom.
Whatever your path,
whatever your practice,
I wish you unshakeable peace,
and unstoppable joy.
P.S. For your listening pleasure, here’s a link to a beautiful 2-minute Taize song, “Mon Ame Se Repose.”