Growing up in a rural flatland where our small town did not have a 24/7 fleet of snow plows to keep roads clear, the risk was high my family would be snowed in during the holidays. Winter weather meant stockpiling non-perishables, board game marathons, and overall, a time of rest.
The farm life, in general, suggests seasons of work and a season of rest: sow in the spring, tend in the summer, harvest in the fall, rest and recuperate in the winter.
Since moving to the city, I’ve come to believe many people in the United States work very hard but do not balance work with enough rest. The majority of the population has strayed from the age-old agrarian practice.
So when major holidays come along, people have high expectations about all of the non-work activities they will have time to do, and pack far too much into their holiday schedule. The 40-hour work week has simply morphed into the 40-hour Christmas frenzy.
I have a very simple message for you today. Rest.
Rest, I recognize, is not the original message of the carol title: “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” It actually means, “God keep you merry” or “keep you mighty.” However, I believe rest and merriment very much influence each other.
We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the excitement of the Christmas season, as well as irritated with enormously long lines in stores and finding that all three markets in your vicinity are out of the secret ingredient for your infamous egg nog.
And for many of us in the northern states, we must confront these inconveniences on top of bundling up and trudging out in the cold wet snow that was so beautiful and welcome just a month ago. Of course, this was before we remembered our fuel efficient vehicles lack 4-wheel drive capabilities.
Here’s what I suggest in preparation for this Christmas week:
- Eat a hearty, healthy breakfast that will stick to your bones.
- Throw on the warmest, most comfortable clothes you own.
- Start your car. While it’s warming up, prepare an unnecessarily long playlist of your favorite upbeat tunes. That way, if traffic is horrible or parking a nightmare, you’ll have plenty of Queen or Beyonce or whatever it is you like to listen to, to distract you.
You are going to the grocery store, by the way.
- While there, you are going to put enough feel-good food in your cart to last you and your family for the entire week (and then some, if you include Christmas dinner leftovers Aunt Susan will send home with you).
When you get home, you know now that you can read or watch movies or play old school games like Twister and Monopoly without having to worry about venturing back out into the holiday frenzy.
Some of you may not have the entire week off work, or are traveling to relatives’ or friends’ homes for parties. Keep that playlist on hand for those trips!
If you have the good fortune of having time off: sleep in, lounge about in your pajamas. Be spontaneous.
I’m not saying cancel your plans. Just relax them a bit. Stop and smell the snow.
It’s not always easy to slow down when there is a whirlwind of activity around you, but I’m sure happier and healthier when I do.
Wishing you a restful and merry holiday. May God keep you merry.