As I got older, I started realizing the routine of the holiday season. It's the same every single end of the year.
Come the first of December, everyone is thinking of ways to check off any last resolutions of the current year and thinking of new resolutions of the year soon to come. Come mid-December, everyone is rushing to make plans and make money for two of the years biggest holidays. As Christmas peaks around the corner, all most people think about are gifts (kids on the receiving end and adults on the giving end).
December is a month full of emotion and routine and ultimately, expectation.
We are expected to spend and we expect to receive. We are expected to live up to the expectations of the holiday season and forget that we all live under different circumstances.
It's a given that we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to notice the little things, as cliche as that is. Especially in the hecticity of December, we tend to miss the bigger picture (well, most of us do).
Here are a couple things to keep in mind tonight all through the New Year, and perhaps keep in your pocket for later, with the help of my personal perspective.
I remember when I was younger, when I would go back to school after winter break, everyone would ask everyone, "What did you get for Christmas?" I never looked forward to being asked that question, in fact I'd try to avoid it, simply because it was a reminder for me that my Christmas wasn't "as good" compared to others.
Here is a simple and perfect example of expecting to receive.
Keep in mind that we don't all receive tangible gifts. No two households are the same. No two families can afford the same things. Some people have never even held a gift.
Keep an open mind.
I remember the family traditions I had growing up. Huge family get togethers: on my mothers side we would be in Mexico on the night of Christmas Eve and with family on my dads side the morning of Christmas Day. We'd, also, get together for Canada's Boxing Day on the 26th and watch the fights on a huge '90s television.
Now, there are little to no family get togethers, aside from my immediate family. The amount of people at the dinner table has gotten substantially smaller as the years have gone by.
As I reflect, I come to appreciate the now. I cherish every holiday season because I've come to realize that you truly never know how different things will be the coming year (or the next day, really).
Not everyone has a big family get together to look forward to or even a family to enjoy company with.
Keep a present mind.
All my life, I have witnessed my mother and father stress about giving me and my brothers the "perfect" Christmas.
I would see my parents work extra hard and put in extra hours at work just to bundle up enough money to get us at least one thing on our Christmas lists. They were so worried about having nothing under the Christmas tree and seeing the disappointment on our faces.
With expectation comes disappointment. People become accustomed to either receiving or witnessing others receive that when it doesn't go our way, the holidays are ruined.
This is one of the biggest ongoing mentalities that keep us from truly enjoying the holiday season.
Keep a grateful mind.
Our expectations, comparisons and customs give us the inability to step out of our bubble and see the bigger picture.
It's not about how many or what gifts we receive, it's not about whether we have or don't have enough money... it's about love and peace and the good in our lives.
The next time you want to ask someone what he or she got for Christmas, keep in mind that he or she might not have gotten any.
The next time you are around your loved ones, even if your loved one is you yourself, keep in mind that nothing is more precious than the present moment.
The next time you stress about not having enough money to give or create an expectation to receive, keep in mind the true meaning of the holiday season.
Keeping all these things in mind will open your heart to the magic of the season. It will allow you to not only cherish the holidays, but to share that spirit with others.
Be open. Be present. Be grateful.