There is something about first days of the holiday vacation when we’re all together as a family, converging on the kitchen with our apron pocket hearts stuffed full with expectations. We show up aproned and get flour everywhere, and then burst into tears, each of us in turn, when there is too much crowding and impatience, too many elbows around the mixer or fingers in the icing. “Mine!” the boys chorus back and forth like harpies.
It’s this bittersweet thing, the way we all show up needing. Wanting. Wishing. We put carols on the stereo, and dance to Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and then we end up arguing about something insignificant, a phrase said slantwise or some careless remark, and each of us far more crushed than necessary by the other’s harsh tone.
So few days. Full velocity. From one frame of mind to the next we go: from work to full-on family, rolling out sugar cookie dough while tying up loose ends: the last of deadlines, proposals, promises, details. We check our iPhones, catch each other doing so, and sigh, while dreamy snowflakes fall outside. Just enough snow to make the world magic. White on blue, and in the distance cirrus devour mountain tops. The dog licks our bare toes, the fire makes the house toasty, and still we collide. We kiss, we rub noses, we snap, we argue, we laugh. It is all inevitable: this mess, this frantic loving, this silliness of converging in the time allotted before the holiday. Everyone excited, hopeful: imagining perfect days that unfold like the lyrics of the nostalgic carols we play. And though days never do, still we find delight the minute we let go; the minute we remember to just lean into the chaos.
This is just a little reminder to you today: be gentle with yourselves as you converge with family and try to find the rhythm of your mutual expectations. Rest into the mess of it, into the moments just as they unfold. Know that there is no perfect, save for exactly the way the day unfolds with you in it. Be content in the way things will inevitably unravel. Find ways to shake off the expectations and hold instead to the moments of delight that emerge unexpectedly. The easy sparks of joy that come from the simplest things: warm sun, touch, coffee, quiet.
Wishing you each peace + light + delight this holiday.