When my daughter was little it seemed like the holiday season was much more festive and meaningful – we’d bake Christmas cookies, trim the tree and sing along to the ever-classic Johnny Mathis Christmas Album. Then of course there were all the presents – I always took such special care to wrap them in coordinating ribbons and paper. And at the end of Christmas morning we’d sit exhausted amidst the chaos of torn wrappings and boxes, happily wearing our new hats and gloves as we scoffed down a hearty breakfast.
But in recent years it seems like the onset of the holidays has become an intrusion. I’ve found myself wishing that we could somehow skip over the season so that we could get on with what really matters [work?]; or absolutely resenting that I feel so obligated to spend hard-earned cash on gifts that – it seems to me - very often go unappreciated. Or even worse, receiving things you just know you’ll never use. [Note to family: I am, and have always been, severely allergic to wool!] In a way preparing for big holiday events had become a bit of drudgery.
As we were putting this issue together I started to think about my bah-humbug attitude. As a yogi I know that if you put out bad energy, whether it be through words or feelings, you can be pretty sure that’s what’s going to come back to you. I think it has something to do with Karma.
Of course those long-ago Christmas mornings were not very eco-friendly but the intention was about creating a warm and cozy atmosphere and lovely memories. So why, I wondered, have things gotten so un-cozy? Could it be because my gifts were not being given or received with the right intentions? Was my resentment coming through as I cooked Christmas Eve dinner and wrapped yet another present that I bought in too much of a hurry?
So this year, as I prepare for the season of joy, my intention is to approach it with grace and good will and with the utmost respect for the earth. The gifts I have been choosing are not based so much on monetary value. Instead I’m thinking of small useful items that will evoke pleasant memories and meaning. My wrappings are still lovely but now I try to use a beautiful cloth or scarf or at least recycled paper. Reusable string, tree branches, leaves and flowers make a beautiful alternative to manufactured ribbons.
I find myself looking forward to this holiday season for the first time in many years. I feel like I am practicing my yoga with every gift I give. And I have a feeling that I won’t be getting any wool sweaters this year. Karma.