Christmas will be here in just a few days! The end of the year is nearly upon us. Then all the media outlets will do the inevitable rehash of the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2012. Some of us may make New Year’s resolutions. For what they’re worth, here are three little suggestions from me for more joy in our lives.
1. Read Michelle’s L. brilliant post of Dec. 20.
Amen, sister! How about this as a jump start on resolutions: I propose “not by commandment or constraint” that we teach our kids – and ourselves – to amuse ourselves without the constant use of screens or ear buds. How about setting up a cyber-free minute/hour/day/week (…maybe that’s stretching it) as a regular practice? We’re not doing anyone any favors if we forget how to actually interact with others courteously and with real engagement.
But let’s not get silly. I raised my kids in a generation where video screens in cars weren’t yet invented. We used to listen to books on tape (yes, tape) or other kids’ music. With updated technology I still think that’s great. Listening is indeed a skill to nourish. But for a long trip to Grandma’s house, it would have been heaven to pop some cartoon Robin Hood in and keep everybody happy. In this principle, moderation in all things sounds great to me.
Embrace Loud Laughter
I don’t mean that kind of loud laughter – the mean- spirited, belittling other people, mocking of sacred things kind of loud laughter many of us have covenanted to eschew. I firmly believe that people would be healthier mentally (and probably physically) if they laughed more often, more heartily and loosened up to appreciate the great gift that a sense of humor is to human beings. So go ahead and check out dogshaming.com or some of those goofy YouTube videos your discerning friends send you. Belly laughs are good for the soul.
Don’t Let Advent Last Forever
Not all Mormons are familiar with or practice the concept of Advent – a season of specific focus on the approach of the day of Christ’s birth. It’s one of my favorite times of the year and always makes my holidays holier. (Same goes for Lent as I approach Easter). This is one of the treasured things I bring with me from my Protestant upbringing.
The real punch of Advent is that something happens at the end of it. Things change. God comes to earth, for goodness sake (literally)! Things shouldn’t be the same after that. What might that change feel like for us?
Related to this is a little bugaboo I have with a common emphasis among my Mormon brothers and sisters. There’s so much carrot-before-the donkey in how we speak about our relationship with God. Why do we live ethical, service-oriented, purposeful, Christ-centered lives? The typical answer is “so we can live with God again after we die.” (Actually, I think the most typical answer is “so we can live with Heavenly Father and Jesus again… and also with our families after we die!”)
I’m all for living with God after I die, but I have committed to live with God now – in my daily walk, in my heart, in my contemplations and conversations. I think most Mormons agree, but there’s a disconnect in the lingo we generally use. If we really believe we have the constant presence of the Holy Ghost with us, why do we keep talking about being in God’s presence at some (hopefully long in the) future date? We don’t need to wait! Can we start having our language match our practice? Christmas is coming! Seize the day!
That’s enough of my pontificating. How are you gearing up for the glad tidings of great joy and the new year that will follow?