The last of the holiday gifts are opened, the leftovers from the family feast are put away and the day is finally slowing down. Another Christmas Day is winding down. Whether you spent time with friends or family or enjoyed your own company, holidays can be a stressful time for many of us. The weeks and days leading up are filled with preparations and when things are over it can be a difficult time for some. The inertia of anticipation and excitement (and probably a bit of anxiety) that carried us through all that we had to do suddenly has nowhere to go, and we can be left feeling down and even depressed.
Some will deal with that post-holiday slump by diving into the ‘holiday reset’. Get all the decorations neatly put away and start the run up to New Year’s Eve. Keeping busy can be an effective way to numb ourselves to those feeling we would rather not feel. Plus, there’s the bonus of erasing all signs of this holiday and pushing on to the next. If we just keep moving, everything will be okay. That can work for a while, but eventually the feeling that something is missing will catch up with you.
It’s far too easy to rush through our lives without ever really living. We’ve gotten good at checking things off our to do list, and the sense of accomplishment we feel in doing that is very real. What’s missing is what happens along the way to that check mark, all the moments of our lives that we rush through to get to a time when things will be perfect. Then we can be happy.
If you’re fortunate enough to have little kids around you, you get a glimpse into what life could be like. When we’re young, we aren’t worrying about what comes next. We’re caught up in the magic of the moment we’re in. Somewhere along the way, we forget how to really be present. I was able to see this today while playing with my 3-year old nephew. For hours (and I do mean hours) he reveled in playing with his front loader and filling up his dump truck with puzzle pieces. After the last piece went in, he laughed and clapped and then dumped the truck out and did it all over again. He was just as excited on the 10th load as he was on the first, and he wanted me right there with him while he did it.
At first, I was full of suggestions on how we could load the truck faster, spill less pieces and all the other things adults do to make fun, well, not fun. He wasn’t having any of it. He knew what he was doing, and he didn’t care if pieces went flying or fell on the floor. He was having a blast, and it didn’t have to be efficient or have a purpose. It just had to be fun. And you know what, it was. No phones, no Netflix, no distractions. Nothing but a front loader, a dump truck, a pile of puzzle pieces and a whole lot of laughing and clapping (and maybe a cookie break or two).
When we take the time to slow down and experience those little moments in our lives, we get to have a life rather than preparing for one we think we will eventually get to. We discover that the little things are the ones that matter most...doing things that may not have a purpose beyond laughing and being with the ones we love. Those are the perfect moments you’ve been waiting for.
So, before you rush into what’s next, stop and take a moment to slow down, breathe and just be where you are. Enjoy this moment, because it will never come again, and it will be what you make of it. Whatever you thought you needed to do next can wait. Load the dump truck a few more times. Laugh with your family and friends and be present. That perfect moment you’re rushing toward could be the one you’re in right now.