Sometimes the truth comes at us like a freight train—speeding and uncontrollable. This happened to me the other day. What if, instead of thinking of the holidays as a chore, you think about it in terms of seeing your loved ones 50 more times? Often, holidays are the only time we spend with family, and they only come around once a year.
This is not meant to incite a panic or create sadness; it’s meant to make us all think about what the holidays are really about—and that’s spending time together. Time is the most precious gift of all, and our time with loved ones should be something special to look forward to.
I read a blog post a few weeks ago that really made me think deeply about the 50 more times I could see my loved ones. This post led me into watching a holiday video created by Ruaveija. In this short commercial, we learn that according to statistics, over the next 40 years, we will spend 520 days watching TV series, six years watching television, eight years on the internet, 10 years staring at screens. People say that their loved ones are their priority, but the way they spend their moments does not support this.
Our brains are programmed to avoid thinking about how long we’ve got left to live. This thought process makes us we think we’ll always have the chance to do the things that really make us happy—and see our family and friends.
My dad, brother, and his husband, all live out of town (a day’s drive or a plane ride away). We see each other a few times a year (I wish it could be more). Thank goodness I have cousins who live 20 minutes away, and although I don’t see them as often as I’d like, we’re at least a quick trip away from each other.
My husband Nick and I are lucky that one of our sons is in town for college; however, our oldest is in Columbus (about a 90-minute drive away). Now that the kids are getting older, getting jobs, starting their lives, the holidays feel even more precious to me.
In past years, I would embrace the holidays, but also think there was a lot to do, feeling uneasy about firming up plans. I’d also wonder if everyone would get along when joining many family dynamics together.
Reading the blog was a huge wake-up call for me. I need to make all these times with my family together special because who knows when we’ll see each other next. I lost my mom two years ago and wish I had more holidays with her. Who knows, maybe one day my kids may feel the same about Nick and me and the holidays. After spending more than 20 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together, our traditions are locked in and welcomed by both our sons—even taking their photo on the stairs before they can open presents (yes, I know … pretty goofy, but it’s a tradition, right?).
Again, this message is not meant to make you sad. It’s meant to help you to buy more time with your loved ones. Life is unpredictable, so make the time, take the trip, make the call, make the changes in your life that allow you to spend more time with them. It’s the best gift you will give to yourself, and one you’ll never regret.
With that said, this is my promise to the world: I’m not going to dwell on things I should have done. I’m going to move forward and make changes in my own world that I can control. I’m going to take the trip, put down the phone when I’m with others (especially at home), make the time, make that phone call, write that letter, and carve out time for the people who are special to me every day. I’m going to spend my holidays being thankful for the moments– even short phone calls with my family, my friends, and with anyone who brings joy to my life.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
Relish the moments!
SMPS President Melissa Lutz, FSMPS, CPSM, is principal of Champlin Architecture in Ohio. She can be reached at email@example.com.