“All I want for Christmas is…”

Chaplain’s Corner

oliver edwards

Padre Capt Oliver Edwards started military career as an army armourer.
Photo: Cliff Kenyon

Padre Oliver Edwards

Has anyone asked you that question lately? Have you asked yourself that question? Do you even know? Some of us don’t. A lot of us are so well off materially that Christmas is really a non-event. What do we want? We already have everything we really want… I mean there are nice-to-haves but nothing we really want…

What we want and what we need are two different things. This is magnified in our cultures in December, as we culturally are moved to generosity and giving by the holidays. I am going to suggest that this year, spend a thought on what you need. And make a plan to obtain it.

And what most of us need isn’t more stuff. It is more friends. More time. More hope. More positivity. Some may be dragged down by their surroundings, in virtual or real time. We are burdened by the demands on our time that keep us from the most meaningful things, the things that can’t be bought in a store.

This isn’t just a good idea: it’s key to your job performance and work/life balance! Having periods of refreshment and restoration is key to being able to maintain high performance and giving your all to your calling. Christmas is a busy time, but it can also be refreshing if you approach it right.

Here’s some ideas to make sure your holidays are refreshing:

1. Take some time with family and friends, in a no-demand atmosphere. I’m not talking about Christmas parties that you have to dress up for, prepare for, or be “on” for. Watch the numbers: for some large groups are energizing, but if that’s not you, organize a more intimate gathering;

2. Take some time to dream. Spend some time intentionally picking a stretch goal or two: a vacation in 2020 or a staycation, or plan on accomplishing a hobby project – a room reno, a vehicle restoration, building a birdhouse. Once you pick your target, take a page from “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and work backward to see what you can do right now to begin the journey;

3. Take some time for your soul. For some, that might involve taking in a church service. For others it might involve taking a walk (or a snowshoe) in the woods. Still others might find it a blessing to participate in guided meditation or a yoga session. Too many forget that we are all spiritual beings and periodically need a refuel of connection to something or someone bigger than us;

4. Take some time to serve. Blessing others blesses you! Bringing joy, comfort or hope to someone else is widely known to have as much or more impact on the one who gives than the one who receives. Don’t let grand gestures keep you from this one: frequent small things like buying the coffee of the person behind you in the drive-thru can be just as valuable to you and to others as spending a day at a Habitat-for-Humanity project or a week in a developing country with a humanitarian organization.

Don’t be held back if you have a partner or a family to worry about: all of these things can be done together. In fact, you can be a blessing to them too by intentionally leading them in taking moments for these things.

oliver.edwards@forces.gc.ca