The Christmas season is a busy time of year. So many things to focus on.
In addition to all those parties and concerts, the season is full of projects like cookie-baking, shopping, decorating and gift-wrapping. Such activities are supposed to help us “get into the spirit of Christmas.”
But, for me at least, the “spirit” is sometimes lost in the details, because when it comes to projects, I am all about FOCUS.
Focus: a curse and a blessing
I have a brain that does not multi-task, so whatever project I am working on is normally the only thing my brain is thinking about. This is a useful trait when it comes to staying on task and completing goals, but FOCUS also has its drawbacks, such as:
- I get so absorbed in the PROJECT I lose track of time until I suddenly realize my husband will be home in half an hour and I haven’t even thought about thinking about dinner. This results in a brief moment of guilt, followed by a frantic bout of activity in the kitchen [read: cats and small children would be wise to stay out of the way] which usually produces something edible, but not particularly memorable or repeatable. And since this whirlwind dinner production requires multi-tasking, it drains me of energy, making me somewhat less than my normal pleasant self by dinnertime.
- My focus becomes so narrow that I forget about the bigger picture, such as the reason I am searching for the perfect Christmas gift or spending hours baking fancy cookies. This results in a bout of guilt when I “surface” from my concentration and am reminded that my reason for embarking on the PROJECT was supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus, not successfully finding the best-rated, highest-quality gizmo for the most-discounted price. Oops.
- Because my brain is focused on the PROJECT, I tend to forget about everything else. This includes everyone else. It is not that I don’t care about my friends and family, it’s just that my brain puts everything not pertinent to the PROJECT into temporary storage. And until something jars my memory, that’s where it all stays. Which results in another bout of guilt for not remembering a birthday, or forgetting to call a friend going through a rough spot, or failing to notice the neighbor I walk past at Home Depot while searching for that thing I need to finish the PROJECT.
So, knowing my propensity to get completely absorbed in the PROJECT …
I need to remind myself to stop from time to time, take a step back, and refocus.
Because I might discover that I have been so focused on the minutia of the PROJECT that I am missing out on the rest of life. (Not to mention the lives of the people around me.)
And I certainly don’t want to miss out on Christmas, which has always been my favorite holiday. (Despite my grumbling about holiday survival, I do thoroughly enjoy the festivities that surround this time of year. I only turn into a Grinch when I feel overwhelmed because I took on one-too-many major holiday projects. I am learning not to do this.)
I guess this is one reason for starting the day with a quiet time –I need a reminder to bring my environment (and the people who fill it) back into focus. It is easy to charge into the projects of the day, to immediately get lost in the lists and details, and remain blissfully unaware of the people in my life who might need my attention. And unlike the cat, who frequently reminds me of her existence, [er, excuse me while I run downstairs and let her back inside*] other people in my life might go unnoticed unless I remember to widen my focus from time to time.
So my Pre-New Year’s resolution is to spend time each day focusing on something other than the PROJECT.
How about you? Do you have a tendency to get too busy doing Christmas that you forget what it’s all about? What suggestions do you have for keeping your focus in the right place?
*( and, Yes, I really did get up and let the cat in right then.)
In closing, a little poem about refocusing
(with apologies to Dr. Seuss)
She bustled and buzzed, doing projects galore
Then the gal thought of something she hadn’t before
Maybe Christmas, she thought, shouldn’t mean she’d ignore
All the people and needs she’d swept past heretofore.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more
About caring for people and less about chores.
And what happened then? Well, in her home they say,
The gal’s project list simply got tossed away.
She refocused her thoughts, got a new kind of view
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through.