Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Deep Breath

It seems as though the Christmas season begins earlier every year. Maybe it's just me getting older and time seems to pass so quickly now, but as soon as Halloween ends, the Christmas ornaments come rolling out at all the stores, advertisements and movies about Christmas begin on TV, and companies begin expounding on their Christmas present ads. Sometimes it feels overwhelming.

Most people are out there rummaging the stores for bargains and racking their brains trying to think of thoughtful gifts for everyone on their lists. Believe me, it's not possible to give the perfect gift to every single person on that list.The battle for parking places begins and, on the evening news, the accounts of thieves and muggers escalates. It's dangerous out there. And what about the cost? Many of us are struggling to keep afloat on any given day, let alone attempting to buy something for everyone we know. There is also the inevitable guilt about not being able to afford gifts for everyone.

What about Christmas cards? You try to remember to send them out to all your friends and family, but you already know, you'll forget someone. We all hate it when we feel we've hurt someone by not getting that card to them.

All the magazines and advertisements on TV have beautifully decorated houses and rooms. Some are overdone or garish, to be sure, but many are just right. We try to make our homes like those images we see. It takes energy, money, and time to decorate. No one wants to have the dark house on the block.

And then there's the cooking. We prepare food as gifts. We makes several different kinds of cookies and decorate them, usually the children assist us as best they can. Then there are the cakes and pies and candies to make. Just as we are about to explode with the sugar rush, it's time to prepare that huge Christmas feast--and didn't we just have that big Thanksgiving feast last month? So here we go again, in the frenzy to have all those good eats on the table to celebrate the day.

Now mind you, all these frantic activities are things we enjoy doing to make our families happy and create joyful memories for them, but it's exhausting.

So now we've come to the end of the big celebrations. There are two weeks between Christmas and the New Year when we start the coming year with a clean slate and normalcy returns. This is the time of the Deep Breath. This is when we reflect on the year about to pass, the things we hope to change. This is our quiet time, our time to meditate, to stop talking and just listen to God. We need to rest and regain our strength and perspective.

And so I wish for all of you to take that Deep Breath, come to peace with the year passing away, and fill yourselves with hope for the year about to begin.

Joy, Health, and Peace to you in the New Year.


JDM said...

A nice, thoughtful post, Sarah. May the New Year be wonderful for you as well.

Unknown said...

Sarah, we must be reading one another's minds...except you phrased the situation much more eloquently than I ever could. For all the enjoyment they bring, the holidays become more frenetic every year. I agree: It's exhausting!

May every good thing come to you in 2015 and forever beyond, dear friend. Now get some rest! :-)


Unknown said...

Yes, I do always take a really deep breath when the gifts have all been opened,the last lingering guest has slipped out the door bearing leftover sweets, and the kitchen is finally clean again. But I never quite thought about it in this way before. It is a peaceful time of reflection between Christmas and the start of the New Year with a bit of excitement looking forward to things to come. Great post, Sarah!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

J.D. thank you so much for your kind words. I hope your New Year is the best ever.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Kathleen, I should have known you would feel the frantic doings of the holidays. You're like the manic tornado trying to hold everything together. Thank you so much for your comment and taking the time to visit my blog. You are a stalwart friend.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

What? You have a clean kitchen, Rebecca? I should teach the dog to do dishes and the cat to vacuum so I could have a clean house. It looks like something exploded in there.
I hope you're getting plenty of rest before the New Year begins and I hope this year proves to be the happiest and healthiest it's ever been.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come and read my blog.

Unknown said...

So true, Sarah, and very insightful. This does happen. I remember my daddy saying after Thanksgiving and after Christmas, "I'll be glad when all this is over." He talked about "too much rich food," and he'd tell Mother, "I want beans and cornbread, and nothing else." In other words, let's get back to basics, as Will and Waylon sang.

While we take that deep breath, we still have New Year's, which is not bad at all. We don't go all out for anything, but for some reason, Jim wants "snacks" on New Year's Even and Day. Not a meal...just those snacky things we make, and I do have a few recipes to make, and then...I, too, just grab what I want when I want it. It's our last fling of the season.
Happy New Year

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I think a lot like your daddy. On New Year's day I like simple, basic food. We usually have
roast pork loin, sour kraut and mashed potatoes. It's the Pennsylvania Dutch traditional dinner for the New Year. We don't usually have dessert and that's good because, by then, we're tired of sweets. From then on it's back to regular grub.
I like the idea of snacks, but not the cooking kind--the out of the bag or box kind. Shoot, I'd even just like tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.
I used to stay up and even go out on New Year's Eve, but now I just go to bed and greet the new year when I wake up.
Thank you for coming, Celia, and sharing part of your Deep Breath history and thoughts. I love hearing about your family. Maybe it's because they remind me so much of my own.

Paula Martin said...

I don't usually have any guests over Christmas and haven't cooked a Christmas lunch for about 20 years, as I go my daughter's for lunch (about 3 streets away from me). So I don't have any of the frantic preparations - and don't have any leftovers to eat up either! It's unlikely I will actually see anyone between now and the New Year as one daughter has gone off to her inlaws in Belfast, and the other is going away for New Year. I don't take any big breath - unless it's the one I'll take at the beginning of next week when life returns to normal again!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Well Paula, you must be living the good life not to have to cook and run to the store 5 times a day because you keep forgetting stuff.
There's a crazy energy that seems to go with the season and it effects us from the TV and the community. Of course if you're living without TV, internet, stores or people around you, maybe then you won't have to take that deep breath. You lucky thing.
Does your daughter live in Belfast? Ireland has got to be a great place to live.

Robyn Echols said...

Thoughtful post. I am still trying to recover -- take that deep breath you talk about. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and are looking towards a happy and productive new year.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Robyn, thank you for coming. It's like taking that deep breath right before you dive back into the water. It's fortifying and it has to last a while. Somehow this lull between the holidays always makes me think of that scenario.
I hope for all of us 2015 becomes a year to remember for all the good things it brings and not he bad.

Unknown said...

Hello Sarah, your post about Christmas was enjoyable. Also, the message about Reluctant Joe was nice. All the best for you. I hope you enjoyed the holidays.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Hey there, JoAnne, how sweet of you to come and read my blog. I really appreciate your kind remarks. I did enjoy the holidays and I'm glad they're behind me now. I'm looking forward to what the new year brings.
I hope your new year is filled with happiness, health, and prosperity.