It's hard to believe that just two days ago I purchased brightly colored pansies, eager to brighten the dreary landscape and to welcome Spring. Yet, somehow, the timing of the snow is perfect. Just yesterday, I heard a sermon about one of the possible origins of April Fool's Day. Apparently, back in the 1500s, when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar, there was some fall out. Under the Julian calendar, the new year began on March 25th; however, because of Holy Week, New Year's festivities didn't begin until April 1st. Those individuals who stuck to the old traditions and celebrated in April, instead of January were called April fools. This year, I'm embracing my inner April fool. . . and taking both the sermon and the spring snow as a sign that now is the PERFECT time to send out our family's holiday cards.
Oh, I had good intentions back in December. I stayed up late one night, crafting the ideal card, pushing the "Buy Now" button to solidify the savings. The cards arrived in that telltale orange box and I put them on the coffee table, announcing "The Christmas cards are here for us to send."
Then both kids got sick and I was in the throes of nursing them back to health, attempting to build my life-coaching business, and preparing for our family holiday. The orange box became an experiment: Would anyone else be motivated to tackle the project if I didn't do it?
December passed us by and we entered the New Year. Still, the orange box remained full. My husband drafted his part of our family letter. And we moved the box up to the piano. On days when I was feeling my most depleted, that box contained more than the cards, envelopes, and stamps. It was filled with my resentment, my "poor me" story of how I was the only one who was motivated enough to take on the task. January passed, and then February came. I remembered the year that we had sent out our greetings for Valentine's Day. This year, it came and went. I mentioned the card project in passing. Any takers? The box was now gathering dust. Each time I glimpsed the orange out of the corner of my eye, I could feel myself getting more irritated.
We planned a family vacation to Florida. As I packed our belongings in preparation, I had fleeting thoughts of addressing, stamping, and mailing the cards before we departed. When we returned, sun-drenched, refreshed, and healthy; the orange box welcomed me home. It had become lighter while we were gone. No, there weren't any card fairies that had magically sent the family greetings; but I found that when I gazed upon the box, my feelings of resentment had disappeared. There was a lightness there, a humorous irony. And my questions had shifted. The box no longer represented a "secret" experiment to see if anyone else cared, it had become a representation of my own shifting priorities. Ultimately, the question was not, "Is anyone else motivated to send out Christmas cards?". The real questions were: For whom am I doing this? Is it something that I want to do? Just how important is it?
Today, my answers to these questions have depth and profundity. I have had ample time to delve deep within to question my own motivations, my own desires, my own needs. And I have discovered that the truth has many layers. When I created the cards, I was caught up in my old paradigm of busyness. Yes, I love the idea of connecting with friends and family--I love giving and receiving cards. And, I do enjoy the creative aspect of designing the card--and the thrill of meeting a deadline and getting a "bargain".
However, this year, I have become more in touch with my inner landscape: with my limitations, my needs, my wants, my motivation. And, the fact of the matter is that in order to be the human that I want to be: someone who is soulfully present with myself, with my husband, with my children, with my clients, with my artwork, with my burgeoning business; some things that were once priorities will be no longer. Or, I may need to allow for a new time frame. Or, I may need to CLEARLY and SPECIFICALLY ask for what I need. There is a temptation to give hints, to insinuate instead of to simply ASK. Because, somehow, I realize, that I have believed that if I received something and didn't ask for it then I didn't actually need it.
Can you see through my convoluted thinking? I didn't ask for what I needed because I didn't want to be having needs. I wanted to be capable of honoring all of the old agreements I had made as to how I would function within my family, within my world AND AT THE SAME TIME add a bunch more REALLY IMPORTANT and life-changing dreams, goals, and responsibilities. I didn't want to decide. And so, the orange box sat. And I fumed for a while, looking for others to blame. Then I took advantage of the space within the box, within the calendar and within myself. I realized that I had already made my decision by not sending the cards sooner. I just hadn't acknowledged it.
Today's snow and the Julian calendar's new year celebrations have presented me with a window, a new timeframe that I will honor this year. And, the orange box has given me permission to do it differently next year. We may just be going digital in 2019. Or, perhaps, the ever-growing boys will take on the project. But, I know one thing for certain, before I open the computer to begin any Christmas card design work in December; I will pause and get clear about my own needs, wants, and abilities to take the project to completion.