“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” The Tao te Ching
Do you approach the holidays in a spirit of leaving nothing undone?
I feel your pain. My holidays used to include a ten-foot Christmas tree, a perfect specimen chosen with a careful eye and festooned with hundreds of carefully placed lights, trinkets, and toys. It took two ladders and several days to complete it
My family didn’t share my attention to detail. “Mom,” my eleven year old son said one year, as I was speed-hanging blown-glass icicles moments before dozens of guests were arriving, “The tree is beautiful. No one cares if you get more stuff on it. Just relax and enjoy it.”
I thought this was a very uncooperative attitude.
Relax and enjoy? When there were halls to deck and gifts to buy. And parties to throw. And meals served on antique china and vintage linens.
Truth is, apart from admiring my handiwork for a few moments here and there, I was frazzled most of the time. If I had a spare moment, I’d fill it. “Florentines? Perfect! If I go buy hazelnuts right this minute, they’ll be finished by 2 am. Hmmm…I wonder where I can find organic, fair-trade hazelnuts this time of night?”
Happily, I found a different way. Here’s how it works—if it feels like love and can be done with ease and my full presence, I do it. If not, it’s left undone. It’s not only more peaceful, it’s way more fun.
I still love creating a Christmas tree, but now, it’s small and simple and takes about an hour to decorate. It’s sparkly and beautiful and smells divine, and I have time to sit in front of it with friends and a glass of wine. I cook on Christmas Day because I love to, but it’s no longer a competition with Martha Stewart. I might even break out the antique china once in a while, because it’s lovely and these days, because I actually got some sleep the night before Christmas, I have the energy for the hand-washing that follows.
Guided by principles of love and ease and mindfulness, I do less and less, and enjoy the holidays more and more. Without the long to-do list, I can connect with the people in my life with my full presence. And isn’t that the point of all the preparations, decorations, meals, parties, and gifts? Isn’t that connection what really matters, what we really want?
Truly, by doing less and less, all with loving, effortless ease and full presence, nothing that really matters is left undone.
During this holiday season, may you give and receive love and connection with those who nourish your life, and may you keep it with effortless ease in the coming year.