I take Sundays off on principle. Or, I do now that I have that choice. However, I happen to like what I do and have made a commitment to write every day. Hence the Sunday Post. I have decided that Sunday’s post will be light, raw, free thought, a flow of consciousness, and may not make abundant sense to those who read it. Or maybe it will make perfect sense.
Today’s Daily Prompt was Tenterhooks, which I had to look up. A tenterhook is a hook that hangs on a frame used to stretch woolen items as they dry to prevent shrinking. Apparently, these frames used to appear in fields in Northern England in the 1600’s. The phrase “On tenterhooks” – which I have never heard – means in painful suspense. Which brings to mind anticipating something, probably something potentially negative, with such anxiety as to be stretched thin and feel as though tethered with actual hooks. I love allegory! Here’s my reference (so much for being light, but I have a thing about citing my sources): https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/on-tenterhooks.html
This goes right along with my theme of Shoulding on the Holidays (read Part 2 about Expectations to see what I mean). When you “Should” on the holiday, you harbor expectations or attachment to an outcome. You should decorate a big tree. You should get the nativity scene or village out of storage. You should plan a get together for friends. Or go to the party. Or give in to the rampant commercialism and buy, buy, buy. These shoulds increase stress, particularly on those who are already strapped for time, money, or – let’s be honest – holiday spirit (or give a care – keeping it G rated, you get my drift).
Many people are anxious throughout the season; whether it be social anxiety, trying to fit yet another activity into the schedule, meal planning, shopping, decorating, dealing with family that you avoid the rest of the year…and we cram all of this on top of an already busy schedule. Is it any wonder people get holiday burn out? Isn’t this supposed to be a joyful time of year?
Perhaps much of this stress is caused by the fact that we’re trying to artificially inject happiness into the holiday by living up to everyone else’s expectations. What if we simply “Be”. Just be with whatever happens. No expectations, no consumerism for the sake of being a consumer, no fancy outfits…just you and the people you love enjoying the holiday. Maybe if we slowed down and marinated in the spirit for a minute or two, we could find the joy in the quiet bits.
Until we learn how to simply sit and enjoy the holiday, we find ourselves on the tinsel treadmill…doing exactly what the retail companies want us to do. Spend. We buy, ship, print, photograph, and wrap ourselves into a frenzy in December, have one last hoo-rah for New Year’s Eve, and then we’re left with stark, cold, empty January. All of the sparkles of the holiday are gone and reality is all that’s left. Like in The Matrix. To make matters worse, the credit card bill is coming. Most of us are strapped for cash the way it is so that inflated number on next month’s invoice leaves many of us on tenterhooks (Ha!). That is unless we learn the true meaning of Christmas, Grinch-style.
“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store…” Right? You’ve seen the movie or read the Dr. Suess book. Christmas came even though the Whos lost all of their tangible items. At that moment the Grinch realized that the true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with material things. And his heart grew. He experienced joy. You can, too. But you have to learn his lesson and take it to heart.
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“Letting Go of Expectations to Experience Greater Joy”. By Dona Winger (that’s me). The EveryGirl Journal, December 2017 issue. https://naturalbeautymethod.com/issues/december-2017-jh4dg-6wx36