My favorite holiday memories are not about specific gifts I got. Rather, they are about special moments shared with loved ones. I can almost guarantee your favorite holiday memories are also of things you did with family and friends, special happenings, or reactions that came with that one gift you do remember. You see, our holidays are built from relationships, from feelings and connection. Yet, as time has passed, I feel that more and more time during and leading up to the holidays is spent planning and shopping for the “perfect” gifts. With the holidays upon us, we might find ourselves preoccupied with trying to get our families and homes ready for the season and celebrations.
Somehow, in the busyness that surrounds the season, we can forget that what makes it so special and magical are the memories we create. Those memories are not possible if we are not fully present and available to what is happening right here in this moment.
So, I propose this holiday season we make our PRESENCE the most important present we give the ones we love. In reality, it is not that difficult. We just need the willingness and intention to make ourselves completely available to what we are living. Simple traditions will become so much more meaningful if we can be fully there. We can choose to put aside all distractions or thoughts of what didn’t get done or what we still have to do and instead resolve to completely enjoy the moment.
Simply put, mindfulness is being present and aware of whatever is happening right this moment, right this second, whatever it is. Being fully present and aware allows us to take the moment and experience it completely, as well as make ourselves available to those sharing that moment with us. Each moment is fleeting, and removing our attention from it cheats us from experiencing it completely. As renowned professor and writer Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “If you miss the look in your child’s eye one day, you’ve missed it. If you miss the look in your lover’s eyes the next day, you’ve missed that. If you miss the beauty of sitting under trees, you’ve missed that. If you sum that over many moments, many years, you may wind up missing the most beautiful aspects of your own life.”
With the holidays here, what if we make a conscious effort to turn down the volume of noise and chatter and give each other the gift of presence? Instead of running around trying to find the perfect gifts to buy, I propose we take the time to create moments and opportunities to just “be” with each other. Not sit in the same room with everyone’s attention focused elsewhere, but mindfully choosing to purposely pay attention to each other.
What would mindfulness look like this holiday season? And how can carving out these moments of presence with our families and loved ones enrich our relationships and our hearts? I guarantee simple holiday traditions can be fun and foster our mindfulness. While preparing a list of new mindful traditions to enjoy this year, I realized immediately that it’s not about the event itself but rather the way you show up for it that will make all the difference.
Here are a few simple suggestions that our family enjoys that you may try with your favorite people this holiday season:
Random Acts of Kindness
The only trick to make this a mindful holiday for you and your family is to switch your perspective from getting things done to actually taking in every second of the activity, savoring each moment, and connecting with each other. No cell phones allowed, except to sneak in a photo or two, no more!
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers” – Thich Nhat Hanh.