In a blog that is supposed to be about travelling,  if I could just take a moment or two to talk about a life lesson learned as a sojourner, a traveler of holidays past…..

“Back in my day” she began, “things were different. It was back before our idea of Christmas became something else.”

The words hit hard. We have lost something of what was and what should always be. We get caught up. We get busy. We get to the point with a few thousand steps along the way. The hustle and the bustle of the holiday season seems to overtake us and has seemingly taken what matters most, as a base for which we launch from, instead of what the whole of it is truly about.

Holidays are undoubtedly the busiest blur of the year. We have lists and places to go and people to see and houses to decorate and gifts to buy and food to cook. It is however what you choose to make it. Easier said than done I know, but it is possible.

I remember several Christmas seasons ago I ran myself ragged for weeks. I had big work obligations around the holiday, a list of those I needed to buy gifts for, baked goods to make for people that had come to expect them every year and a miscellaneous list that looked like a small novel. It was so detailed in fact that I had a small composition book that I took with me everywhere I went with everything I needed to do in it. I would carry a pen with it to mark off and add to the growing list. It was overwhelming. I recall going to sleep with a thousand things bouncing around and wake up a few hours later to start over again. I was caught it seemed in the whirlwind of sorts but by my deadline, all things were completed.

I travelled home that year for the holiday and when we sat down on the plane it was the first moment I had to just unwind. I had battled through security, succeeded with the overhead storage bin, had a decent seat and felt a cheap satisfaction that everything in my book had gotten done, well good for me. I should have felt accomplished, but I felt a bit empty.

For the next two hours of flight, I sat there thinking how nothing of it mattered really in the big picture. I was surrounded by people filled with stress in that plane. People, who like me, had the blur of days leading up to this moment. People, who were stressed and agitated, tired and uneasy it seemed. You could see it in their countenance, and hear it in their voices. I made some decisions on the flight that day and felt like it was time to move back to a place that was more about the reason we celebrated more than the celebration. The confirmation quickly came when our family greeted us at the airport and my niece, so small at the time, grabbed me and did not let go for a while. It was a simple thing, filled with perspective as her tiny hands held mine. This was Christmas to her, having us all together. It was about family, about life and simple moments and about a season we celebrate the most important gift of all. That was all I needed.

I wonder how many more of me there are in the world. According to rush hour this morning and the blur of people headed out to shop, there are plenty. I am not saying don’t give gifts and don’t have things to do, not at all, but what I am saying is this: remember why you are doing what you are doing. The gifts you give, the time you share, what things you offer should all be tied to one central thought, the reason for the season to begin with. As I child I was told that we give gifts because we were given one in the birth of Christ and that Wise Men brought gifts to Him. I hold to that still. So in my spirit of giving and in my celebration I want to remember this.

This holiday, I want to go the distance. I want to be kinder. I desire to be charitable, to help my fellow man. I want to embrace the beauty of the season and savor each moment. I like the thought of paying it forward and of preferring others over myself. There could be easy moments of a kind smile in the middle of shopping, letting someone have the parking space you wanted, or letting someone in traffic. Like allowing yourself to open up to strangers by engaging them with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or something just so it is out of your own realm. What if we fed the homeless or offered assistance to that single Mom or Dad? There is much more as well as we think through the beauty that could be in this season and in the days that follow it.

This should be a “Season of Reason” that changes how we move around in the world. That is the best “travel” tip I can offer in this moment between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Merry Christmas and soon, the happiest of all New Years.