For my friends and readers who follow the Christian tradition, a merry Christmas Eve to you. After many seasons of struggling with my tangle of beliefs and motivations attached to December holidays, this is the first year I finally feel peaceful. This feels like a big deal—the peace part. It feels like a milestone reached less in triumph and more in easy satisfaction. A generous sigh of relief. It needn’t be so hard. It doesn’t have to be so hard. I get that now. If December’s highlights were ranked in order of general satisfaction, this would be #1. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Another way to put it, I probably made it harder than it needed to be. Not probably. I did. But not anymore.
For me and The Chef, we’ve embraced the old-fashioned Yule. We celebrated on December 21st. Our solstice was happy. We let it be easy. However, his kiddos are Christmas children, raised in fire and brimstone fundamentalism on their mother’s side of the family. They are grown children now and this is one of the places they come home for their Christmas. We’ve decided that our home will be the inclusive one. There will be one peaceful place available to them, where their traditions are welcome and others are welcome too. We will be more merry with more to celebrate.
This principle feels more important than all of the conflict I’ve allowed to tie me in knots year after year. These days we have enough reasons to dread holidays, especially this one. Let them look forward to coming home to one holiday observance free of bickering and blame and burning bellies. Let something be sacred. Someday they will bring grandchildren home with them and there will be at least one place where everyone’s traditions can be honored and everyone can feel included. One place where diversity isn’t a goal; it’s a lifestyle. It’s the simple solution that was always there.
As for the rest of December I decided to post the highlight reel now because the big finale of the TINAS project is scheduled for next week. We don’t want anything to eclipse that gargantuan undertaking. December’s wellness practices well-supported:
- The Spending Fast continues (with holiday allowances)
- The self-portrait project concludes (goodbye TINAS)
- The yoga streak began (this is Day 13)
- Blogging surged (no pressure boosts creativity)
- Stuff was purged (in anticipation of gifts coming in, clutter goes out)
- Photography was minimal but meaningful (quality over quantity)
The Chef and I finally figured out a strategy that allows us to run together comfortably. When he’s nearly finished with his planned mileage he finds me along my route and cools down at my pace while I finish mine. It only took us ten years to discover the simplicity of this too. For those interested, yesterday we discovered the yams were still there. If anyone needs a last-minute Dirty Santa gift, I can give you the coordinates of two unopened cans of southern-style yams that remain unclaimed.
The bread-baking instead of bread-buying is so damn good, y’all. In addition to basic plain wheat bread we’ve now added sunflower bread, rye, and jalapeno cheese bread to the repertoire. No preservatives into the bloodstream. No sugar added. No wasted moldy heels. No plastic bags headed to the landfill. This is so many wins it almost feels stupid to buy bread from a store now. It’s way too easy to do this at home and so far it has proven better in every way.
Free events at the public library; you need to be saying YES to these, my friends. This month The Chef and I got to see a sneak preview slideshow of Tim Ernst‘s new book. He’s been one of The Chef’s favorite photographers forever. When I got transplanted here I naturally became an earnest Ernst fan as well. That’s a pun. A double pun. Tim Ernst is a wilderness photographer. Get it? (Okay, so that joke was a lowlight.) It was like going to the movies, listening to an artist’s lecture, and meeting a celebrity all rolled into one. And it was free. Do this.
I’ll never stop saying it. Wellness is as easy as the next better choice. String those choices together and we develop a practice. Every day we get a fresh set of choices. It’s doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be hard. Make one choice in favor of wellness today. Make another one tomorrow. By the end of the month you’ve made a start. Built a practice. Generated momentum. And we just keep going. No finish line. Just a better life, feeling good.
As the new year approaches, let it be easier. That’s one choice. The choices to come will do exactly that—they will come to you without you chasing them down. Be there. Be mindful. Be well.
— Smarty Smircher