This coming week is the week people can really get stressed out if they work on it. We’re rapidly approaching the heart of the holiday season. Hanukkah begins on December 21st and runs through the 28th, Christmas is coming up next Sunday the 25th, and then Kwanzaa begins on the 26th. It can be a busy and stressful time, with all of the celebrations, traveling and gift-giving attached to the holidays. We all need to keep a sense of humor and laugh and enjoy this time of year. Don’t knock somebody down trying to get into a parking space. Remember, this is the time to feel the spirit of love and appreciation and thankfulness. Keep things in perspective as you go along—even if you don’t get all of the shopping done that you expected to. It’s a special and meaningful time. Reach out and give somebody a hug and tell them that you love them—that’s probably the most important gift.
I came across a wonderful quote by Henri Nouwen. He was a Catholic Priest from Canada who spent much of his life ministering to the less fortunate and he has written some great things over the years. Just listen to this as a way to think of this holiday season:
“More and more the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, sit up on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have time to practice the simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, and to be a part of some impressive project is so strong, that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans; not to organize people around an urgent cause; not to feel that you are working directly with social progress—but I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and to tell your own. To let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them but you really love them.”
Isn’t that wonderful? I think that we get busy with work, busy with shopping, and aren’t practicing the whole wonderful ministry of presence—simply being present with people we care about. So today and throughout the holidays, consider the idea of just being present with each other. Maybe what you ought to be doing first is to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own. Let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, you truly love them. I think that’s what the holiday season is all about. Take care.