Holiday gifts are a source of real stress for me. I’m a natural gift-giver, but my generosity REALLY fights against the pressure cooker that is our American capitalist version of Christmas. (I speak of Christmas over other holidays not due to any type of intentional preference, but due to my family’s individual history, which has not been rooted in religion, but culture and food and sharing time, all of which are holiday-agnostic.) Any sort of time constraints generally throws me off my game, but specifically with the winter holidays (or summer holidaysin the southern hemisphere), much is stacked against you as far as “getting it right” for everyone.
It’s the same with birthdays. I love to participate in gift-giving, but I prefer to do it randomly, picking up a gift for someone whenever they cross my mind throughout the year, or whenever I find a thing that reminds me of them. Spreading my generosity over the course of the year is much more natural to me.
But here we find ourselves in the midst of our second pandemic holiday season. While our gatherings may be slightly less burdensome this year with the widespread availability of our multiple safe, effective vaccines, we also have a new variant that is inserting more uncertainty and risk into our lives again. For those of you, like me, who thrive indoors, keeping a low profile, we may be less affected, personally, but we are still feeling the lack of normalcy, the increased tension and stress/anger of those around us who are all seeking something recognizable as “normal.” It is not here now, not yet, and no amount of our application of might and “free will” will bring it about. Covid is king; it will determine the rules by which we all continue moving through the world.
So with that being said, dear readers, I propose a universally given and universally accepted holiday gift of grace, for yourself and others. I am giving myself grace for all my grief, sadness and failure to perform at my best this year. I also share my gift of grace with all living beings, great and small, across and beyond humanity. We have endured and survived, not thrived or flourished. 2021 has been easy for exactly nobody. If you know someone who says it has been, they are lying to you or to themselves. But for those of us who are still hanging on, right-size your investment of time and energy toward the things that truly matter and, as you persist and survive, you and the world will be rewarded with your gifts.
Give grace freely to others. If you are out and about, spread kindness. No, in fact, RADIATE kindness. Be patient. Engage positively. Hold a door open for someone. Take the time to recognize and acknowledge others’ humanity.
And extend grace to yourself. If you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or otherwise not able to live up to your own or others’ expectations, give yourself a break. You are still here. Your presence is enough right now.
Life is full of ups and downs, some longer than others. And no situation is permanent. So keep grace in your heart this holiday season and keep looking forward to better times ahead, even if you do it from your couch, in your pajamas wrapped in a comfy throw blanket with your dog at your side.