This will sound crazy coming from someone who makes and sells stuff, but recent news from the retail world has shocked me. I’m sharing something from my own experience (not just from watching The Grinch) because I feel that it’s important and know that it’s true: even if you couldn’t buy another gift or write another card or bake another cookie this year, Christmas would still come.
My friend Michelle Gilbert shared this article discussing the new tradition of violence and craziness on Black Friday. Michelle spent the Thanksgiving holiday dealing with some health challenges, and shared, “I am grateful for an illness which forces me to choose peace amidst the madness around us.”
I thought about the “forced” peace that Michelle spoke of and remembered my own experience abandoning traditional holiday chaos. In early December 1998 my parents were driving home from Christmas shopping when they were hit by another driver. My dad had some broken bones, some cuts that required stitches, but my mom suffered a broken neck among numerous other injuries. She was in the hospital through December into January, required multiple surgeries, and worked through weeks of rehabilitation.
My daughter was only four months old at the time of the accident, and any plans for some “perfect” first Christmas were quickly scrapped. Very little of what we did that year was traditional: I didn’t write holiday cards, and many of the days I bundled up the baby to visit my mom, leaving little time for baking or shopping. Without the insistence (and assistance) of a friend, I’m not even sure we would have gotten a Christmas tree. In fact, most of those normal holiday things that I had always felt compelled to do just didn’t get done. And yet, when Christmas came around and we were together at the hospital eating Christmas dinner, we all felt blessed. My parents were alive, my mom was going to recover. All of that other stuff really didn’t matter.
People will repeat it this year and every other: the shopping and the gifts are not what this season is about. We will say it, and then we will choose the shopping and chaos (I do it, too). We will talk about “peace on earth” and then pepper spray one another at the local mall. The truth is, happiness and joy and peace can’t be found there, or at Walmart, or in any other store. “Peace comes from within,” Buddha said. “Do not seek it without.” Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gandhi and Thomas Kempis and many others said the same thing: peace on earth starts with peace inside. You may not know it until you are “forced” into it, but you carry it with you wherever you go.
So maybe I’m crazy to tell you that you don’t NEED what I sell, as much as I enjoy participating in your holidays. You already have what you need. Abandon the chaos. Embrace those you love. Be at peace, because you are the gift.