This I have learned

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

It goes without saying that December is probably the most hectic and frenetic month of the year. Over-extended, over-stressed and over-stimulated, we sometimes find that when the last day of the month arrives, ergo – New Year’s Eve, we have become inured to all of the emotions that come with “the most wonderful time of the year.” And, yet, this scripted scene plays out year after year during our complicated lives.

On reflection, however, we think back to just two months prior when our enthusiasm and excitement about the impending holidays overtake us and push all reason and logic out the door. For it is at that point that we can, quite simply, become hostages of the holidays.

In truth, most people like the excitement of the Thanksgiving and Christmas/Chanukah/holiday season – and I am not an exception in this regard. It is gratifying for me to bake, decorate, shop, buy, write the cards for the season, entertain and busy myself with all of the sparkly, light-immersed accoutrements that align with December. But, I full well know that I will be exhausted on December 31; and, furthermore, I expect it.

Then, within the first week of January, I will muster all of my energy to begin what the British refer to as “Boxing Day,” and I will pack up all of our decorations within labeled boxes and containers that will stay hidden for the next ten months or so. And, in truth, every January, I say to myself, “Let’s not get so wrapped up in the holidays this year.” But, all of the festivities and beauty that come with the season I fully embrace. And, something more…I really cherish it all.

Perhaps everyone goes through this tradition of holiday anticipation, holiday excitement and holiday exhaustion, but it is truly worth the journey. And, certainly, it is worth the effort to bring a smile to the faces of everyone you touch during the season.

However one celebrates in December, it is gratifying to know that the season, with all of its pre-excitement and then its post-angst, conjures up memories that have been in our hearts for decades.

And, in regards to being hostages for the holidays, it can surely happen if we are not mindful of the lives that we touch during the season and the magic that comes with it.

Here’s an excerpt from It’s a Wonderful Life, one of my favorite movies of the season.

Clarence: [to George]: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

This I have learned.