Reinventing the Holidays
When I retired last October one of the first things I dreamt about was how much time I would have to get ready for the holidays. In the past I ran myself ragged to buy lots of gifts, decorate our 9 foot tree, cook for 20 people and try to appear like the perfect hostess, all while holding down a more than full-time job. I told myself that I could shop in a relaxed way, plan everything over time, find the PERFECT presents for everyone on my list.
With all this time on my hands I found myself instead mulling over the real meaning of Christmas: the ideas of gratitude, consideration, family. My habitual running in circles had made me forget why we were celebrating in the first place! I thought about the sea of wrapping paper, the frenzy of everyone opening their presents at the same time . The concept of all these gifts pulled us out of the warm, shared conversations we had been having BEFORE we started on the race to the last unopened box. So last year I made the decision to ask people NOT to bring gifts but to donate to their favorite charities instead. We could share the stories of why we chose where we would send our money. The result was better than I had expected. We all sat and talked through cocktails and dinner. There was no interruption to tear open gifts. The feeling of love and the joy of being together were what mattered. In fact, everyone as a group decided that this was a tradition worth keeping.
So now as I get ready to host another dinner on Christmas day I look forward to the time to decorate our tree which is always filled with special ornaments that people have brought over the years… another way that we all remember our time together. I will probably still run around to buy everything to cook but it will be with the knowledge that the time we spend around the table will be relaxed and fun. After 60 years I think I have finally found the meaning of Christmas!
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About the Author: Ann Benjamin is a 30 year veteran of ABC NEWS where she was the director for programs such as World News, Nightline, 20/20, and major special events. In the fall of 2010 she followed her heart and left that world to pursue her dream of teaching yoga. In July 2011 she was certified by Laughing Lotus NYC. She now divides her time between her passion for yoga and those media projects which she finds interesting and rewarding. Check out her website at www.inlightyoganyc.com.