Final Thought for the Holiday Season

We are winding down the month of December. I hope you have had some cheer, even if your life remains busy or difficult. This week I’m sharing my final thought for the holiday season: the best moments are often the ones we don’t plan.

Thought for the holiday season. The best moments are often the ones we don't plan.

I am a planner. Planning makes me feel calm and in control. I love checklists, calendars, and everything in between. At this time of year, I enjoy planning special events and celebrations for family and friends to enjoy. At the same time, sometimes I saddle my plans with (potentially unrealistic) expectations. I imagine how happy everyone will be when my plans play out. In some cases, events unfold just as I had envisioned and all goes well. However, in others, either a plan falls apart, something unexpected messes with a plan, or people just aren’t as thrilled as I had anticipated. That can be disappointing.

Fortunately, great moments are not entirely my responsibility. In fact, each holiday season I seem to have at least one experience that is surprisingly wonderful. This year, I had one of these moments when a client had to cancel at the last minute. Since I had a few “found” hours, I decided to plug in my tree, put on some instrumental holiday music, and work on a fun Christmas project. The glow of the lights and the soothing sounds refreshed my soul, and I walked away saying, “That was just so nice.”

Moments like these – that we didn’t orchestrate, and hence for which we had no expectations – can end up being highlights of the holiday season.

Can there be a lot to accomplish during the holidays? Yes, there sure can. Can wise planning make the holiday season easier and more pleasant? I think so. Will every joyful moment be the result of our planning efforts? Probably not! In fact, it may have nothing to do with us at all.

As you move through the next couple of weeks, I hope you will be on the lookout for surprisingly good moments. If and when one arises, allow yourself to fully savor it. You just never know what might end up being your best memory of the season!

Can you remember a special holiday moment that was completely unplanned?

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14 thoughts on “Final Thought for the Holiday Season”

  1. Thank you for that – makes me happy to move into the last week of school and then an VERY unplanned vacation. I hope for moments like those. I think sometimes I take a different way home and see a very well decorated home, and we just stop and all look and say, “Gosh, this is nice to look at.”
    Tamara recently posted…What Does a Boudoir Photographer Do?My Profile

    1. Yes, that’s totally it! Part of our pleasure comes from simply being available to the good gifts that are all around us, right? I wish you and all of your family a very merry Christmas, Tamara!

  2. Hi Seana, I love this! I love it when I have an unexpected two hours of time where I can do whatever I want. One of the big lessons I have learned this year is to not have expectations about how others will or won’t react. It’s been a bit of a hard lesson actually. Anyway, I just love this unexpected and unplanned moments that are so special. Happy Holidays Seana
    Kim recently posted…The Most Searched Topic – Trauma and ClutterMy Profile

    1. We honestly have no control over how others will react, and when we have specific expectations, we can feel let down. It’s been funny to me, over the years, to see what my family and friends have enjoyed and remembered most. It isn’t always what I had anticipated!

  3. This is such a beautiful point you brought into the open. There are many unplanned, serendipitous moments in life that end up being treasured. Perhaps partly because they are unexpected with no pre-thought for how they “should” play out, those moments can be so lovely.

    Like you, I’m a planner. But I also like to have “white space” in my schedule for transitions and unplanned time. First of all, I don’t like to rush. But also, it leaves the possibility for life’s surprises (the good and more challenging ones).

    Wishing you and your beautiful family a very happy love-filled holiday season. And here’s to you and discovering more moments to savor.

    1. I think the “should” can be a heavy burden that we often carry. I especially see this tendency in mothers, who often feel the weight of making everyone else’s holiday season special. What’s so funny is that now, having adult children, listening to what they remember most. Their stories are full of moments I neither planned nor labored to make happen. I hope this provides a bit of permission to simply relax, see what pops into that white space, and enjoy.

      I’m raising my glass to discovering more moments to savor, Linda! What a lovely thought for the transition between the end of one year and the start of another. Happy, merry to you and your lovely family. 🙂

  4. I have to go waaay back to answer that one. I was in university, living in residence, and my mother told me if anyone wasn’t able to go home for the holidays, I could invite them to Christmas dinner at our house. I invited a good friend, and a mutual friend picked him up and drove him to my place. My parents invited the second friend to join us and he did (I never did know how his own family felt about this spontaneity – hopefully their festivities were at a different time). That wasn’t a huge moment, but it was a real deviation from our usual family gatherings, and I loved having my world collide like that.
    Janet Barclay recently posted…My Warmest Wishes to YouMy Profile

    1. Ah, I love when that “world colliding” thing happens. My daughter just had a similar experience. She has moved to a new city, and my mother’s cousin invited her to dinner. At the dinner were not only this cousin, but another family relative, who told my daughter stories about my mother that she had never heard. It was so special, and completely unexpected! I love your story, and the warm feeling you have surrounding how everything unfolded.

      Wishing you a very merry holiday, Janet!

  5. I couldn’t agree more! Of course they’re special, but I have a theory about how and why else our unanticipated delights are so memorable. As planners, we “live” experiences three times: imperfectly, when we plan for them and anticipate what will happen, realistically, when something actually happens, and then imperfectly again, when we recall the aspects of the memories we’ve encoded. But because the planned-for things are so ingrained in our minds, I suspect we don’t encode new details when things actually happen, and let our expectations fill in the gaps where our attention wanders. But in these special, unexpected moments, specifically because we DIDN’T plan them, all of our senses are on high alert, and we pay attention to and encode everything in our memories, which is why both the experience and the reliving of the experiences in our memories is so acute. Thank you for singing the praises of those magical moments and allowing them to happen!
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Paper Doll’s Guide to Picking the Right Paper PlannerMy Profile

    1. Well that is just a fascinating way to think about how we experience things, Julie. I love it. These moments do end up being magical for sure, and now I’ll be thinking about your reason for why. Terrific!

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