"It's the most wonderful time of the year" ... really, Andy?

The title of a song written by Edward Pola and George Wyle on October 14, 1963 and romantically introduced to the world by Andy Williams in his now famous The Andy Williams Christmas Album.  This song speaks of “kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer”.  “It’s the hap-happiest season of all, with holiday greetings, parties for hosting, friends coming to call, and caroling out in the snow”.  “Hearts will be glowing”, and “much mistltoeing” are the images Andy Williams croons to his listeners as he creates a euphoric fantasy that seems to be more about, well … days gone by. This is a song that brings very strong, pleasurable feelings every time I hear it.  It’s one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time.  As I listen to the words, I find myself wishing it were actually true in our world today.  Frankly, having just celebrated Christmas a week ago, I need to say that those 48 hours or so weren’t the “hap-happiest season of all” for me.  At times, yes, I was happy and joyful, but there were also moments of just normalcy, along with some stress, high anxiety, and a little discouragement thrown in for good measure.

B U S Y-ness seems to take its toll this time of year, surgically removing a lot of my sense of contentment and happiness.  Traffic, buying with even more buying, long checkout lines, dwindling checking accounts, multiple get togethers with family and doing our best to “be of good cheer” when all we really want to do is be left alone for just a little while, take a nap and gain some kind of sense about what the season is really all about.

I sometimes wonder what my holiday season would be like herding cattle out on the ranch where all I have is time, aloneness, the beauty of the wide open range and the companionship of my loyal dog and horse.  Simple blessings like the warmth of a good fire, a sleeping bag that will keep me warm and dry even when it’s covered with three inches of fresh, powdery snow.  Quietness.  Time to think.  Time to ponder.  Time to appreciate simple things in life like the twinkling of a clear starry night, and the brightness of a full moon.

This certainly defines what the shepherds may have experienced when the host of angels came to proclaim the birth of a Baby in Bethlehem, named Jesus to them.  That’s another song we all know, “Angels We Have Heard on High” (and for that matter a future letter from my heart).

Although at times I enjoy steeping in the daydream of longing to be left alone, if I linger too long I eventually find myself…planning “parties for hosting”, with everyone telling me “be of good cheer”, eventually longing for others, and being surrounded by family.

So what is this vicious cycle all about?  As with years past I have come to understand, that first and foremost this season isn’t just about me.  And it helps if I can reach a point of contentment wherever I am at the time, whether in times of plenty or times of scarcity, with family or being alone.

Finding contentment in where you are at the moment, isn’t easy.  It takes discipline and focus.  It is best accomplished when we are in a giving mode instead of focused on a getting mode. Contentment brings freedom and it’s worth the effort it takes to reach it.

Honestly, if you are content no matter your circumstances, it is indeed…”the most wonderful time of any year”.  I hope you found contentment during the last few days of 2014.  If it has been elusive, keep up your focus in 2015, eventually you will be rewarded and no matter where you are, or whatever you are doing you will find the peace that takes the place of anxiety, which is so common in these times of the year.  Wishing you my very best for the coming New Year.

Sarah Peterson