Joy’s Knocking

Daiquiris on the beach? Delicious! But not super Christmasy, so the year my family went to Mexico for the holiday, I fit in my favorite December traditions earlier in the month.

And since I was being extra thoughtful about how I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas, I decided to omit some of the stuff that didn’t bring me as much joy. I said no to a few invitations. I shopped less. I swapped out Christmas cards for “Happy New Year!” notes to send throughout January.

By the time the 25th arrived, I felt way more Christmas spirit than usual.

And it wasn’t the effect of the daiquiris (at least not totally), or the fact that life was more perfect than past years (it wasn’t). It was that I’d been intentional about creating a December that felt right for me, and in so doing, I let joy in.

That December taught me that we get to shape what our holiday season looks like.

If there are traditions, expectations, invitations, that don’t feel particularly joyful, it’s okay to say no to things that drain you.

Give yourself permission to let go.

Because taking care of yourself—doing what restores you—means you’ll feel better AND have more energy for the ones you love. Like an oak shedding its autumn orange, it’s natural to let go of what’s not serving you anymore—traditions, habits, feelings you’ve outgrown, especially at the start of a new season.

And once you let go, you’ll have more room to do what you enjoy.

I drive three hours to cut down a tree in the mountains, which I decorate with only white lights and one star. Then I sleep on the couch for the weeks leading up to Christmas, so I can fall asleep next to my twinkling evergreen. This is not everyone’s idea of Yuletide Bliss. But to me? Joy!

Maybe there’s a Christmas tradition you’ve been missing, or something new you want to try. It doesn’t have to be big, or turn into a tradition, just something that feels good now, adds sparkle to your season.

William Blake wrote, “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.”

This December, be the one who sees the tree!

We can all point to details in our lives that seem to stand in the way of our happiness—situations or people we’d like to transform with a magic wand. And sometimes the imperfectness is particularly obvious during the holidays, when everything around us seems to sparkle.

But there’s sparkle for each of us, whatever the details of our lives, if we choose to see it.

Notice the beauty around you. Soften your gaze. See with your heart.

And your perspective will shift.

Until one day you find yourself staring at a tree—or a child, or the ocean, or your dog, or a home cooked meal, or a starry night—and feeling such delight in the pit of your belly, it’s as if someone waved a wand over an ordinary moment and poof… Joy!

And someone did.


We all have more power than we realize—to create the sort of life we imagine, step-by-step, over time, starting with the season right in front of us.


Joy’s knocking. For you. Let her in. And watch your December sparkle.