In the essay “Look, a Beautiful Moment,” in the stunning book A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness, Irene Ras notes that she’s embracing a slower pace at home. Sometimes this looks like baking bread. Sometimes it looks like reading before bed.
This reminded me of the importance of taking our time, especially during the holidays.
I think the impulse is to sprint. It’s as though we’ve kick-started a race, the gun has been fired, and we’re speeding to the finish line. How can we shop faster? How can we cook faster? How can we be as efficient as possible?
These are not bad questions. And the answers may be helpful at times. After all, there are simply more tasks to do, and being more efficient means crossing tasks off our long lists.
But in all the rushing and scrambling, we miss the magic.
What if you slowed down? What might your holiday season look like if you took your time with just a few things?
I don’t mean doing less per se. I mean choosing activities like Ras’s bread baking, activities you can completely focus on, activities that nudge us into a calmer, more serene, slower pace, activities that are less go, go, go.
Some examples: Sit down for 20 minutes, and write a letter to a loved one. Light a few delicious-smelling candles, put on holiday music and sit on the couch with your eyes closed. (I’m actually playing Christmas music as I write this post.) Make paper ornaments with your kids.
Make a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve. Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade while munching on pancakes (and not once check your phone). Spend the day decorating your home, and creating your version of peace or joy or your version of a winter wonderland.
Snuggle in bed with a holiday-themed book. Drink hot chocolate as you watch old Christmas movies. Spend 15 minutes jotting down what you’re incredibly grateful for—from your best friend to blueberries to your house to the beautiful family photos with your dad, who’s been gone for too many years. Take a walk in a park or some other natural location, and look for decorations, such as pine cones, berries and twigs.
Sketch holiday-themed doodles inside your journal. Write a poem about a special holiday moment—or about what you want to remember this holiday season.
I want to remember cuddling on the couch with my kids as we read silly stories. I want to remember the smell of snow. I want to remember the dinner conversations with friends. I want to remember the taste of the turkey. I want to remember my daughter’s grateful heart. I want to remember what it’s like to be surrounded by so many compassionate people. I want to remember the warmth. I want to remember the singing and dancing. I want to remember the small, sweet moments.
Linger longer over the moments that bring you joy. Make sure you’re using your five senses to truly savor those moments: Focus on what you’re seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and feeling.
Give yourself the gift of space, of feeling like you have all the time in the world—even if that “limitless” time is 20 minutes.
I know that this sentiment is by no means earth-shattering or revolutionary. But I also know that I need such reminders from time to time. Maybe you do, too.