The sun has already started to set when I walk the girls home from school at 3:45. We set the table and sit to eat with the sky already a dark indigo turning black. They have been asking for bath, story and sleep before bedtime; they feel the call to hibernate in caves made of quilts and down. I see the snowfall begin, check the weather to see 15cm is expected. I don't think about how cozy it will be to wrap myself in a wool throw and watch Christmas movies. I grumble about putting snow pants over top my pyjamas so I can go shovel the driveway and front walk.
We make getting groceries an adventure, pulling them home on our sled. We build fires in the fireplace, attend Christmas parties and December recitals in our best dresses and shined leather shoes. I take time to send cards, and show my girls what it is to give what we can to those who could use help, whether we know them or not. My day planner's boxes fit with reminders, appointments, to-dos and planned meals and I sigh a little too loudly.
December. It calls us all to slow down, be still, listen, reflect, be together. It also feels like a bunch of social obligations that, on their own, sound fun and idyllic but collectively leave me tired, overwhelmed and approaching burn out.
When I splay myself across the couch, weary after a day of working, mothering, giving more of myself than I have to spare, I turn on the news. I see children like my children and families like my family struggling to leave their homes in Syria. I see proud people protecting their land in Standing Rock, and am reminded of the struggle to exist fairly as an indigenous community. I cry when I see such hurts, such wrongs, and I wonder how I ever complained about my busy schedule.
I remember that every day is a miracle: for me, for refugees, for activists, for everyone. We are a week away from Christmas Day and I will prepare my heart to be thankful, to relish in my blessings, to honour my life's comfort and safety. I will be glad to see my friends and family all around me, sharing in our bounty. I will try to remember that I can make much more of an impact on the greater good with my demeanour: my patience, my smile, my offerings, my hugs.
I can't take away the struggles, injustices, sicknesses and pain that plague so many people. I can start where I am, in my home, in my town, at work, and try to lighten everyone's load without depleting my own.
From a Letter to his Daughter
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.
This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.