What do the holidays do to you?

denise-johnson-426641As I was browsing through some stories and articles on Medium, I ran across this curious statement: “The holidays do things to some people.” So I began to wonder, “What kinds of things?” Not necessarily bad things. Hopefully good things, too.

The holidays make some people very generous. They give a lot to those whom they love as well as to strangers and causes of every size and shape. That’s a good thing, right?

The holidays make some some very family conscious. There is an underlying expectation that family will gather to celebrate, making it necessary to get time off, plan travel, pack and head out with zillions of other people to make the journey “home.” That’s good, right? Pretty much, unless you’ve neglected that dimension of your life for the past year, making it feel like you’re in an awkward roomful of strangers who don’t know each other very well.

The holidays are a whole bucket full of stress for some. That’s probably not a good thing. Folks become more and more snippy as the season unfolds. Too much to do, not enough time, and unrealistic expectations sap tidings of comfort and joy from their lives.

The holidays drive some to excess. It’s so easy to spend too much, drink too much, schedule too much, and eat too much. Probably not good.

The holidays sometimes prompts you to reflect on your life, the year past, your relationships, and the stuff you have. Such reflection can generate gratitude, make you dream, help you set goals, and maybe try something new. That one sounds good to me.

What do the holidays do to you?

My therapy?

A chore recently turned into therapy.

Yard work was until yesterday a necessary chore, just part of being a homeowner. But yesterday, as I raked up bags and bags of dead grass from our lawn, I realized I had stumbled across something therapeutic.

The last week or so has been rough. After a busy weekend hosting our friend Lophane from Haiti, all h*** broke loose. My friend Bud found his mom dead in her apartment. A couple of elderly members were admitted to the hospital in really bad shape. And another, David, was facing major surgery. I’ve dealt with all of these kinds of events before, but this time they just seemed to pile up in a way that left me feeling drained.

Monday morning found me in a pretty bad mood, as was pointed out to me by my neighbor. I came home early that day and to tackle the front yard raking and within half an hour, found myself feeling much better. The beautiful afternoon (we live in Florida, so some February days are indeed beautiful!), the rhythm of raking and the sense of accomplishment made me feel relaxed, refreshed and renewed.

Well, I thought, if this task eases the stresses of ministry, then I’m going to be out here everyday, doing something in the yard. If this helps me unwind, then I’ll be out in the yard every day if I can. Today I stopped and bought some flowers to replace everything that died in last winter’s freeze. I didn’t have a lot of time; just enough to get them all in pots and watered.

I don’t know if it’s being outdoors, or getting my hands dirty, or just focusing on something besides ministry, but I like it and I’ll be out there again tomorrow.