A Holiday Invitation

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Blue and Green Polka Dots Yankee Swap Holiday Flyer

Happy December!

It’s the season of holidays for many of us, though I know not all.

I embrace the holiday season, and Christmas is my holiday. I love it all—the lights, the trees, the presents, the magic. I love that the first snowfall usually comes during this season. I love the opportunity for gathering with people for eating, drinking, and merriment. I love that I have a fireplace and can light a cozy fire during this season. I love the Christmas music in the background (for at least the first few days of December… and then enough already, people. How many bells can we jingle, seriously?).  I love the deep bellied "Ho, Ho, Ho!!s" that I hear from the Santas that visit our malls and festivals. I love looking at the different ways people decorate their houses, cars, selves. I love traditions—old ones, like putting the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and new ones, like the “stupid appetizer” party… which was originally intended to be a “soup and appetizer” party.

But I’m also keenly aware that the holiday season can bring with it an emphasis on loss. On what’s lacking. On what isn’t. I’ve had more than a few holiday seasons filled with events that highlight the pain over the joy, including one that included the death of my father just three days before Christmas. I’ve also had many a holiday where I’ve gotten swept up in the focus on finding-the-perfect-present, making-the-perfect-dish, being-the-perfect-host, being-the-perfect-guest; which of course misses the point of the spirit of the holiday entirely, doesn’t it?  

Oh yes,this thing, this holiday season. It can be some tricky business, can’t it? It’s a landmine of memories and expectations—one wrong step and the whole thing can shift from beauty to heartache. From joy to pain. BOOM. 

Driving earlier today, I was stopped at a stop light. It’s a warm spring-like day here in Indiana—the last of which before a cold streak snaps us appropriately towards Winter. The remaining leaves are actively working their way off the trees, so there are leaves all over the ground. At the stop light the wind was whipping up, and it was not only blowing the leaves across the road, it was blowing them off the trees, causing an essential rain storm of dry brown fall leaves. I was struck by the beauty of the display of blowing leaves, and by the sounds of them rustling this way and that—I had my window down to soak in the warmth of the day. Suddenly, a leaf danced its way in through my open window and alighted onto my lap. Something about it took my breath away. I picked up the leaf and set it tenderly on my dashboard.

And the whole way home all I could think about was how much beauty is all around us in this world, but how much we miss because our focus is elsewhere. How much we miss because our bodies and our minds are not in the same place, so much of the time. That leaf made its way to my lap and said "HEY!!!!!  Did you notice me?? I'm doing the dance of my lifetime out here today, lady.  And after today-- I'm gone. Did you notice??" Today, I noticed. 

This holiday season, no matter what or how you celebrate, is an opportunity to notice. To choose.  You can choose beauty, even in the midst of pain. You can choose to revel in beauty. In the beauty of the unexpected. Of the mundane. Of the familiar. Of the new. You can choose to pay attention to what's in front of you, and find the beauty there. You can choose to look up.  (Did you notice the super moon last night?)  You can choose abundance in the face of scarcity. You choose. 

Every holiday season is an invitation. What will you choose? 

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.