Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zen for the Holidays

It is always such a marathon this time of year--and judging by the expressions on the faces of fellow parents at the mall, I am not the only one who feels this way.  Part of my stress is my innate perfectionist, Type-A, "Driver" personality.  Part of it is also the poor planning that yielded two holiday birthdays for our offspring.  Not that it was totally under our control, but yeah, if we had counted forward 9 months on the calendar, we could have taken a break.

So, as DH tries to gently remind me to enjoy the holidays more, and stress/worry less, I tried to put everything I've read this year from Gretchen Rubin's wise blog: The Happiness Project, into practice.

Instead of fretting about the Christmas gifts I hadn't finished wrapping, or being annoyed that I'd overpaid for something that went on sale the day after I bought it, or reminding the boys to save that ribbon, bow, or gift bag, I just let the process unwrap on Christmas Eve.  We bowed to the pressure of the boys' anticipation and let them open everything, and so did we.

The boys were delighted with their gifts, and disappointed only in the limited amount of time they had to play with all their new booty before it was time for bed.  Barley is still enthralled with the painted candleholder I got from a catalog clearance sale last May, which has been biding its time in the closet.  It is shaped like a Chinese dragon, and the spaces where adults would put votive candles make for perfect Lego man hiding spaces or marble holders.  Teddy, meantime, has been putting on mini-magic shows for us each day, as he studies his book of magic tricks.

I am learning to receive gifts more graciously.  Much like I am learning to appreciate chores done around the house, but not quite to my exacting standards.  I was able to step back and look at my own loot, and focus on the time, attention to what I like, and the effort that had gone into locating, selecting, wrapping the perfect gift for me.  I am chagrined to realize in the past I was just as likely to notice how the size, color, fit, or style would not have been what I chose (though I did usually have the good manners not to mention these observations out loud).  I had a much nicer Christmas when I held the thought that it's not about the presents in my mind, even though it was fun to see the boys open their gifts.

I believe this Zen approach to getting through the holidays will also be on my list of resolutions in a few days.  Speaking of Zen, I happened to hear the bookstore lady reading this wonderful introduction to Zen in the children's section.  I'd previously borrowed Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth from the library, and regretted not noting the title/author at the time.  I scanned the shelves looking for the book, and failing to find it, asked her as she paused between readings where it was.  She said it was the last copy in the store, and handed it to me in front of the dozen or so little kids and their parents sitting in the circle for reading time.  I felt a little awkward stealing the last copy for myself, and I waited a minute before leaving, scanning the crowd to see if someone else was going to snatch it from my hands.  No one seemed concerned, mostly just waiting for me to leave so the reader would move on to the next story.

Not a very zen moment actually, so now you see why I really needed the picture book so badly!

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