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Love, Peace, Action

Image of clock just after midnight on Adventures in Expat Land

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve ...

 

If you’ve come looking for a succinct list of New Year’s resolutions, you’re in the wrong place.

I wish I could be of more help, but unfortunately I’m not quite there yet.

Believe it or not, this is actually one of my favorite times of the year because to my mind, it truly is a season.

Given my deep and endearing love for the day itself, I’m definitely not one of those who only see Christmas as a thinly veiled excuse for rampant materialistic hedonism. For years now I’ve been trying to buck the trend of seemingly ubiquitous acquisition: buy this, must have that, if only I had this, grab that.

Each year I’ve made a little more progress. I’ve spent less, enjoyed more, winnowed out some of the more time-consuming tasks and projects, and focused on those that seem to give or bring joy to others. To the season.

Take Christmas cookies, for instance. I used to bake and decorate Christmas cookies every year. Several different kinds, luscious treasures that family and friends enjoyed and appreciated.

But over the years I’ve scaled back, trading the time and effort I’d spend on baking for other pursuits that have brought even greater joy: watching a holiday movie or playing silly board games with family (this year Scrabble mixed with the survival questions from another game was a big hit); getting in touch with friends who’ve slipped away; long walks with the Husband and dog; enjoying peaceful moments in the darkened living room with only the gloriously decorated tree and a few candles for illumination and Christmas carols playing softly in the background.

Guess what I’ve learned? People appreciate homemade Christmas cookies every bit as much, perhaps even more, if you only bake them every 2 or 3 years. Even if it’s only one kind, not four. And even if you don’t bake them after all.

No one has ever lamented ‘it’s just not Christmas without your decorated wreaths and reindeers’. Instead, they seem pleasantly surprised and appreciative when you do bake them: ‘oh wow, how festive!’ or ‘these look fantastically delicious!’

For me, Christmas has always been about faith, and it doesn’t end with the day. The beauty of the season is that even if you don’t share the religious beliefs behind the holy day, you can (and many do) take away the secular beliefs of joy, peace on earth, good will toward fellow man.

While Christianity has one of its holiest days in December signifying the birth of Jesus, it doesn’t mean that other faiths don’t have holidays in December (they do), nor does it mean that others can’t appreciate the importance of Christmas to Christians, and the holiday spirit (they do).

To me, THAT is what the holidays are really about: respecting the beliefs of others of different faiths, and sharing that respect for faith. When Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and others engage in their holidays, I feel that not only are they celebrating their holy days but that the world is a better place for their practicising the purity of their faiths.

So it makes perfect sense to me that New Year’s Eve would be right around the corner, and in my mind the two are inextricably intertwined. Together they make up the season.

If you believe (in a religion, karma, fate, kistmet or other framework of beliefs), you appreciate. If you appreciate, you ponder.

If you ponder, you reminisce, weigh and consider. You end up making a self-diagnosis on what ‘s working (and what’s not), where you’ve triumphed (or fallen down), who’s mattered (and who’s no longer in the picture), when you’ve gotten it right (and when you’ve missed), how you’ve spent the past year (and what you envision for the next 365 days).

Most years I go into the holiday season with the thoughts and actions of the ending year burbling about it my head. These victories, best efforts, also rans and utter failures mingle with the enormity of need in the world, hope for the future and a sense that time is dwindling. Looking inward, looking outward.

From this cosmic stew emerges a clarity of needed action, a set of resolutions to guide me and serve as my touchstone for the coming year.

And I’m not there yet.

It’s still all jumbled up in my mind, half-baked and competing for my attention.

Usually I’ve got my resolutions nailed by now, using the final hours of the year to fine tune and polish. I’m nowhere near that stage, and there’s no sign of when I’ll experience a breakthrough.

But I’m neither worried nor concerned. If they aren’t ready, my resolutions Simply. Aren’t. Ready.  

And that’s okay.

I’ve got love. I’m experiencing peace. I’m just pondering the call to action.

May you find love, peace and clarity of action in your own life in 2012:

Happy New Year!

[Image credit: Grant Cochrance portfolio 2635, freedigitalphotos.net]

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