“Pleasant happens. Unpleasant happens. Neutral happens. What we gradually learn is to not move away from being fully present. We need to train at this very basic level because of the widespread suffering in the world. If we aren’t training inch by inch, one moment at a time, in overcoming our fear of pain, then we’ll be very limited in how much we can help. We’ll be limited in helping ourselves, and limited in helping anybody else. So let’s start with ourselves, just as we are, here and now.” Pema Chödrön.
My love for the holidays traces back to my childhood living in Venezuela - New Year’s Eve at Abuela’s house.
Our tradition went something like this: we would wear yellow underwear underneath our fancy outfits, and in the last 12 seconds of the year, we would rush to eat 12 grapes while making 12 wishes for the new year. We would meet the new year holding as many objects as possible - each one signifying something we would like to manifest for the upcoming year.
The scene looked something like this: after stuffing our faces with grapes for 12 seconds, we would rush to grab our pre-selected objects, placed nearby, (for most of us we would have suitcases, old plane tickets, or cash) hoping to call more of these things into the new year.
This tradition helps us welcomes the new year with lots of laughter and excitement, as everyone rushes around with their grapes and their stuff. It is a lively and funny sight.
The last time I spent christmas at home was December 2013. Since then, our family has “postponed” our gatherings due to economic struggles in Venezuela.
This year, has been particularly challenging for Venezuela and many of us living outside of the country will once again not go “home” for the holidays.
Looking at the news, this kind of separation and suffering is happening all around the world.
My heart and my thoughts are with those of us that for one reason or another, do not get to be with our loved ones as we would wish.
I am incredibly lucky to have some of my family gathering in Philadelphia for a home-away-from-home celebration. We’ll be happily together, and skyping with the rest of the family.
For months I have been waiting for the moment I will get to hug my aunts, uncles, and cousins - I haven’t seen them since 2013.
As their visit approaches, I find myself drawn into excitement and a bit of sadness - Their visit seems so short! When will I see them again? When will my country be better? When will the world be better?
Kindly working with these feelings, I have found the word presence to be helpful and grounding:
May I be present, so I can savor every moment.
May I be present, so that I can enjoy every moment.
May I be present, so that I can be fully available to care and love.
Whether you will be surrounded by your loved ones or sending them wishes of well-being from afar...
Know that you are so loved.
Know that with your presence you can invite others to feel loved too.
Gift your presence - breathe deeper, hug someone extra tight, say "I love you" more, tell someone why they mean so much to you, appreciate more, share more smiles...
This is my wish for us all: Let us shine our light and spread love, as best we can, by being present.
Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday season and a happy new year.