It’s easy to get caught up in the wave of thinking about Christmases gone by and to get lost in the sea of various emotions that wash over you at any given time during the holiday season, but it’s very important to put the brakes on the runaway train of reminiscing (of either pleasant or of painful memories) before you find yourself sucked into the black hole of weighted low-ness. We must train ourselves to stay in the present if we want to experience maximum joy this season.
We have our own families now—with a real marriage and real children who are really going through Christmas with new eyes and hearts. If we allow ourselves to get transported back too much into our old life, we will lose the leverage we have now to create the kind of life we want to have in the present and the kind of life we want to give our children in the present and our spouse in the present—everything now will be tainted by what we’re still letting ourselves feel from then. There may very well be positive memories and feel-good emotions that we have of our own childhood Christmases—and it’s all fine and well to acknowledge what may briefly pass through our minds (even if it is negative). But do not stay in the past. Get out of there as fast as you can—return to the present! This is the only place where we have any real power at all.
We have no power to change the past, and we have no power to change the future. We only have the power to affect change now—in this present moment. So if we want to feel better and also give our children the gift of an honestly happy holiday season, it is best to keep things present tense. We can think about what the future may hold, but let’s do so without staying there longer than it’s needed (to, say, anticipate something or to make reasonable plans). This is where we belong—here. With our spouse and our children. Enjoying our time with them now. It’s cool if last Christmas was awesome or if you have plans for an awesome Christmas next year, but this Christmas is the only one that matters now.
We can’t rely on what we’ve done or on what we’re planning on doing to carry us through or to cover our responsibilities for today. This day, this time is what counts. Our joy will flourish all the more when we stay engaged with the present moment, resisting the urge to slink back into the past or get wrapped up (no pun intended!) in the future. Even if it hurts (and it might), keep your eyes here, where your life is currently being lived. Tomorrow, this day will be gone, and we will never get it back again. Make this day count as much as you long for it to.