Your life will simply be as good as you allow it to be . . . Abraham-Hicks
“What is your favorite thing about the holidays?” Penney, who was leading an art workshop at Joy Center asked us, her group of students. I was surprised by my response. “I love it when the presents are all wrapped, and the tree is decorated, and the jobs are done, and the house is still, and it’s nighttime, and I’m sitting there in the glow of the twinkling lights, just sitting there being quiet.”
I’m thinking about this now, on Christmas Eve in the mid-day, with the washing machine chugging and churning, and the bathrooms needing to be cleaned, and the Christmas meal still a grocery list of possibilities, and the kids flying through the air toward home, toward a house that isn’t quite ready for them. It’s not exactly true that the pause at the end of the day is my favorite part of the holidays. I love the hustle and bustle, too, the carol singing and bell ringing, the Christmas movies, the holiday gatherings, the Joy Center events, the sequins and the sparkles, the time with family. I love whooping it up in the snow – one Christmas blizzardy Christmas Eve, when Chris was in grade school, he and I plopped down on each of our neighbors lawns and swished our arms and legs in magnificent snow angel after snow angel! I love all that busyness, and . . . and I love the pause where I can breathe it in.
Two days ago, on the Solstice, I sat in the sun with my mother. It was the last morning of a four-day visit to coastal Maine, and the weather, on this, the shortest day of the year, had brightened, and my ninety-three year old mother and I were taking advantage of it. I wheeled Mom outside, to the Dionne Commons patio, and the two of us sighed deeply and relaxed into it, the warmth of the sun on our faces, the fresh air, the quiet. It was a lovely pause for both of us. And that’s when we noticed the squirrel. Someone had scattered peanuts on the ground of the patio, and this little red squirrel was collecting them. We watched, captivated, for a long time, as this creature picked up a whole peanut with its mouth and skittered off to its home under a gazebo twenty feet away, returning again a minute or so later, for another, then another, of these peanuts which were almost too big for a little red squirrel to handle. But handle it the peanuts, it did. This guy or gal had purpose, focus, a job to do. And there was no wasted energy. No fretting, or whining. “I don’t want to wrap another present! I don’t want to clean the bathroom! I don’t want to work so hard.” In fact, this little red squirrel seemed to be enjoying him or herself. And every once in a while, our new friend would find an already-shelled peanut, and would find its own place in the sun and perch there for a few minutes, chewing its tasty treat. And then, it was back to the task at hand.
So, as I pause here from my tasks at hand, I’m glad to remember the red squirrel, how it gathered those peanuts, one by one, and, in a short time, accomplished its goal. And I’m inspired, also, by another teacher I witnessed while visiting in Maine. Two days earlier, on a midday hike through a forest of white pine and old rugged oaks, on a rooted and pine needle path that follows the wide coastal Kennebec, my friend, Muriel, and I noticed something bobbing out in the swirling currents. At first we thought it was a black duck, but then we realized it was too big. It was a seal, out in the middle of this wide wide river, a seal, miles and miles inland, a seal, who, in the instant we looked out and recognized it, lifted its body way up out of the current and into the light, and, in what seemed like a slowed-down motion, arced itself forward through the air in a gleaming sun-silvery dive. A downstream dive. The tide was almost low and the current was pulling outward toward the sea and the seal was following that current, going with the flow. So the seal, who had probably followed the tide inward in the early morning for a day of river fishing, was now whooshing its way back to the wide mouth of the river and its home in the sea. With ease.
So here I am, refreshed by the pause, refreshed by taking this time to push the save button, to remember my Solstice visit with Mom, how it felt good to sit mother shoulder touching daughter shoulder facing the sun on the shortest day of the year. So here I am, ready to get up and turn on some holiday music, to focus my red squirrel energy on the tasks at hand, and to bring in the playfulness of seal, to move this afternoon with the currents, with the tides, to allow it all to be easy and fun.
“What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?” Right now, mine is making up the guest room bed and cleaning the bathroom. Happy holidays, everyone!