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Giving Yourself the Gift of Time for the Holidays

 12/15/2008

            This busy time of year doesn’t have to be, you know--it’s your choice and mine how many activities we will plan and commit ourselves to during this month.  Recently a friend told me how she applied an idea from the chapter “Overcommitting Our Time” in The Practical Peacemaker.   Time pressure “shatters our ability to act peacefully,” the chapter reminds us, but simple living can increase our awareness of how and when we overschedule ourselves.  “We need to forget what we feel we ‘ought’ to do and concentrate on activities—or lack of them—that will permit us a saner life . . . Once we have freed our lives of meaningless activities, we learn to allow more time for each task than we think it will take, so that if something unexpected does come up, we can still be calm and unruffled, and get everything necessary done.”

            My friend said that her brother had come for a Thanksgiving visit.  She had not looked forward to his visit, because on previous occasions they had been stressful.  She realized after reading the chapter that she had always planned many activities when he was in town, feeling that she needed to be constantly entertaining him.  Once she was able to see her behavior clearly, she could change it, and change it she did.  During this year’s visit she made far fewer plans, allowing plenty of unscheduled time at home with him.  For example, they could spend a morning taking their time over breakfast and reminiscing, instead of dashing off somewhere.  She said it made a huge difference; both of them enjoyed their time together much more, and were relaxed and happy at the end of it.  They look forward to their next visit.

            Are you doing too much this month?  It’s definitely tempting, with invitations to social gatherings coming thick and fast, and our tendency to want preparations for family get-togethers to be just right.  As practical peacemakers, we do well to think carefully about our participation in these activities.  Could you see some of your friends after the holidays when the pace is slower, and maybe skip one party this weekend?  Could you enjoy making two or three kinds of Christmas cookies instead of six?  Does the entire house have to be decorated?  Could you cut shopping time by buying less for family members, thus saving money and benefiting the environment, and spend that saved time actually enjoying the company of those family members?

               May you find peace in the midst of activity this holiday season.

--Kate Lawrence