Sally B.'s cat Herbie is a perfect fit in her Christmas Card box!
The epitome of flexibility: Sally B.’s cat Herbie is a perfect fit in the Christmas card box!

It’s Christmas morning. We had our large family gathering on Sunday, so this morning, things are very quiet here. Even though it wasn’t forecasted, there’s an inch of snow on the ground and  light snow is falling. The world looks very peaceful and “perfect” from where I sit, and yet I’m also aware, maybe more than ever, that “peaceful” has very little to do with the outside things.

After Tom and Lindsay left for her parent’s home yesterday, Jack, Matt, and I took a walk in the woods and then decided to watch “The Ref” (a very funny Christmas movie) but Netflix was out. Even in my frustration (how could Netflix go down on Christmas Eve?!) I was aware that something more important was happening.

For most of my life, I’ve wanted the holidays to be magical. I’ve believed that if I bought just the right gifts, cooked just the right food, and arranged things in just the right order that everyone would be happy (including me) so even though a part of me loves this festive time, the pressure that I’ve put on myself to create outside perfection has also created tension and discord.

This was brought home to me last evening when in a casual way, my son told me that I could have been more open to a suggestion by my future daughter-in-law, Lindsay (about putting lemon in one of the dishes) and that I basically dismissed her idea. I was shocked that it came off as “dismissive” and yet as I really thought about it, I could see that what he was saying was true, and as the conversation continued, I began to see this pattern woven through my family life.

When it came to family gatherings, the image that comes to mind is one of living inside a gigantic clock. I was the “clock-master” (can you belive that this job title is “Horologist”!), and if someone else turned a gear or wheel, they might throw the entire thing out of balance and it was my job to make everything flow effortlessly.

So as I sit here in the early morning hours of a day that celebrates a new consciousness being born into the world, I feel a sense of the new inside of me too. I’m ready to step down, or aside, and let something new be born….something easy. And I’m starting with being easy on me.

Merry Christmas to you all today…..and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, be easy on yourself, and if life isn’t feeling at all perfect, that’s OK too. See how easy you can be today.

Ultimately spiritual awareness unfolds when you’re flexible, when you’re spontaneous, when you’re detached, when you’re easy on yourself and easy on others.” Deepak Chopra


35 thoughts on “Unwinding”

  1. I’m so glad to find White Feather Farm in my inbox this morning. I was hoping so, Mary. I also love the snow flakes falling gently over the site this morning. In reading how you felt growing up at times with family gatherings, we can all look back on our own and reflect, if we choose, how it was for us. Mine, fortunately, was filled with laughter, thanks to my mother and father’s families who came to us on Christmas day. But I’ve often wondered if issues of control comes from a need to control our environment around us as children. I see in others, and in myself, this tendency to control but raising four children, two not my own, cured me of minor basic control issues…my step-daughter, having spent the first five years of her life in chaos, is very controling, still. I think of the times when I’ve been in a hurry and not taken the time to hear someone else, and it’s happened recently too, in my life, how I wish I hadn’t. It wasn’t intended. Your son obviously feels very comfortable in his relationship with you to be able to share that with you, Mary and must feel very much loved and secure in knowing that you would accept it in the manner it was given…with love and concern.
    Sandy P in Southern Ontario, Canada

    1. Sandy, perhaps also from a perceived need to control others’ environment, as well. I think mothers are particularly susceptible to a sense of obligation to make the holiday “perfect” for their children, so they drive themselves crazy in the process — hence the madness of the Cabbage Patch dolls, etc. Your child-rearing experience led you to “let go” of the need to control; it prompts others to hold on even tighter. A losing battle if ever there was one.

      Merry Christmas to all! My sister and I took each other out to dinner and thereby gave each other the “gift of absolutely nothing” as described in this morning’s Dilbert comic: “Nothing to unwrap, nothing to clutter the house, nothing to return, nothing to assemble, and not a single thing to feel guilty about.” It was, in a word, “perfect”!

      1. Jill, talking about control I’m reminded of my conversation with my former massage therapist at the new (to us) gym last week-end and having asked how she liked it, she replied, I’m getting used to it. I responded and said that I felt I was getting better exercise than where I was prior to this gym but that I had trouble with all the tattoos. And her reply: Sandy, you can’t control everything. Get used to it. She broke me up and I thought: is there anything positive that I can think of when I see someone’s upper body completely covered in tattoos? So far, I haven’t been too successful.

      2. Sandy, I’ve decided tattoos fall in the “to-may-to”/”to–mah-to” category of personal preferences vs. turnoffs. Some say tattoos are “body art” and self expression. I say they’re a bizarre form of self-mutilation. But nobody’s making me get one, so . . . live and let live.

  2. Thank you, Mary.
    And Merry Christmas to you and to all your readers. It is snowing here in Littleton, NH also; although that may not be a surprise this time of year since we are only 60 miles from the Canadian border! After exchanging Christmas wishes with Pam, Ali and I took our morning walk along the Amonoosuc River that runs right through town…..hardly anyone was out this morning and it felt as if the dog and I had this “snowy, magical time” in town to ourselves. Times like this, I have come to understand, offer a sense of spiritual awareness if only we are sensitive to it…..and I was this morning. This morning Ali and my world was magical and full of peace for our 45 minute walkl. Thanks for all you do, Mary….for your words of wisdom, your spiritual guidance, and simply for your presence. The world is a better place with Mary Muncil in it!!
    Sending love your way from Northern NH……..Ken, Pam and your pal, Ali.

  3. hi Mary, guess your post proves we are ever moving, changing, shifting, and while not always gracefully, it’s the changing and shifting that matters. I remember hearing about the 3 A s awareness, acceptance, and action. Once I’m aware of a behavior that no longer serves me, I sit in the acceptance stage for a while before deciding how and what needs tweaking , changing, then I can take appropriate action for me! It’s all good, and I’m grateful for your post this morning, ……we (none of us) are perfect, but we are awesome! Enjoy THIS peaceful, unwinding DAY! XXO

  4. oh lovely christmas to you, mary, jack and all your furry friends. your post today is a comfort. i sat in an alanon meeting yesterday and heard many of the same things in today’s post here. were you also there, unseen? aren’t we so much more alike that we are different? thanks for your thoughts; my gift of today.

    there are no outside snowflakes on the west coast this morning, only the rain washing and watering everything. my grey fur ball, finners, is still pretending to sleep, not sure he’s ready to venture out. all seems well here; quiet. i feel grateful for my life just as it is in this moment. i will talk with my two grands today who live in bentonville, arkansas; at 8 and 11 they are still struck with the magic of the day.

    i love your phrase, “let something new be born”.

  5. Merry Christmas Mary, Jack & Familials! Your lovely snowflakes are echoing what is also happening outside my window this morning. We are all One. Thank you for sharing this message today. Yes to Peace, Ease and a New Consciousness. Love & Blessings

  6. Dear Mary. Merry Christmas! I hope your day is filled with peace and the ease of letting go. Thank you for your beautiful reminder about staying centered in the light and being willing to let go of old ideas and habits in order to bring in the new. Much love to you.

  7. Merry Christmas and thank you for all you do. I find that no matter how hard we try or don’t try it is always The Lord choice if it is a good Christmas or not. I hope He decided in your favor this year and all your years to come.

  8. I also was glad to find you in my inbox this morning. My son passed away last year on Jan 21 and his birthday is 12/23 so this has been a very difficult year. What happened to those poor little children killed at school has really affected me. At least I had my son for 46 years which was more then those parents got.

    I went to my morning aa mtg this morning and was good to see everyone but still a rough day and just keep telling myself, just get through it. That’s all. Just get through it.

    I always wanted the Waltons as a family and I, too, thought if I managed well enough perhaps I could make it be that and it’s never been and never will be, even in the best of times. The answer is in acceptance of what is, not wishing for what isn’t but so hard to do.

    Sorry I am so down this morning but that’s just the way it is–thank God for 7 yrs sobriety. Would not be able to make it at all.

    Thanks for listening.
    love, Anne

    1. Anne, I am in absolute awe of you. We are all listening to you, and keeping you in our hearts today and every day. Thank you for sharing, because that helps us all.

    2. Anne, God bless you. I am so sorry about your son’s passing. Christmas is a tough time when you’ve lost of loved one. My brother died suddenly in 1981 and we were devastated. He was 22 years old. A family friend who had lost a child told my parents that you never forget, you never ‘get over it’, but that it does get easier. It’s hard to believe but it’s true.

      I admire your spirit and perserverence. I wish you happier times ahead and many blessings.

    3. Ann, I’m coming to this a day late, but I am still sending blessings and peace to you. I cannot imagine suffering the loss of a child and I am sure that Christmas and that day in January have to be the very hardest for you to bear. No matter what the age of your child, he was still your ‘child.’

      My prayers will be with you. You are doing an amazing job of walking this hard path. Sending hugs your way.

      1. Thanks to those of you who have responded to my post about my son. I really feel that I need to apologize for posting such a negative on Christmas day but was really down. Better today–just glad it’s over.

      2. Anne, this is one safe place where you never need to apologize for feeling what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it. And I doubt that Christmas is all “holly and jolly” for any of us.

    4. Anne, I’m sorry to hear of the death of your son last year and I don’t think that there is any way to move past some wounds other than time takes the edge off it eventually. Hard, too, to imagine the natural order of things has been disturbed. I could not imagine my life without my son or his family and I know that their lives are not in my control (nor is my own to some extent…only the external workings of it). I’m glad you have the support of AA meetings.
      SandyP in Canada

    5. Thank you for sharing such strength with us here Anne. Most of us cannot imagine what you are feeling and experiencing everyday…but I know that some can as well. Blessings of deep comfort to you. Love, Mary

  9. Thank you Mary for sharing your gentle wisdom. I truly appreciate your efforts
    and learned insights. I am a follower of Jon Katz blogging, also a member of OA and understand the 12=step program. Again, so nice of you to share your journey. I live in Central California, am an 83 yr.old woman with an 83 yr.old twin who lives in Indian Wells, CA–we are privileged to be able to communicate via Skye and the internet. Love your tender love of cats and nice to see their pictues. My best friend loves her two cats dearly–I’m a sheltie person and this past year acquired 5 l/2 yr. old Maddie. She is a special gentleness in my life.
    I will be reading your posts regularly and sharing them with friends.
    Vella C. Draughon

  10. Merry Christmas to u snd yes for 24 hours we can give our world peace. Thank you for your inspiring posts.

  11. Our family Christmas celebration is in transition. Both daughters have their own households now, so we each celebrate the morning in our own homes. This morning my husband cooked breakfast, then we opened our few gifts to each other. In just a bit, we’ll gather at my younger daughter’s house (she having the only grandchild so far) for lunch and more presents. Also, since inlaws are in the picture, we have to share. It’s kind of sad, but I don’t dwell on it. We all live close enough to see each other regularly (in’laws included!).
    Merry Christmas to you and Jack!

  12. As always an insightful message to take to heart. Thank you for the generous, loving, educational blog you write. It means much more than you can ever know. Like Christmas gifts from you all year. (Can never tire of your cat pictures). Merry Christmas!

  13. Thank you Mary, your words are spoken from the deep recesses of your heart,
    a zone some people never explore….I appreciate your meaningful/real Christmas blog…it sure hit a major chord with me…Merry Holidays….

  14. Cute little kitty in a box! And, yes I can relate to the quest for perfection in the holiday fanfare. I found myself irritated this morning when my husband “horned in” on my Christmas breakfast prep;) Had to check myself on that one! All is quiet now, and the peace of the day seems like something I can settle into.
    Thank you, and Merry Christmas…

  15. Mary, I love your response to your son’s telling you about the “dismissive” perception. It’s so easy to instantly be defensive but you sought to understand how it might have been taken that way and to seek clarification and insight from this interaction. Your future daughter-in-law is one lucky woman to have you in her life.

  16. Such a cute picture of Herbie in the card box!
    Merry Christmas Mary to you and your family. Thank you for all the wise blogs you send out .

  17. Mary, I didn’t ‘tune in’ yesterday and am just getting to your post this morning, but I had to let you know that I thought of you so often on Christmas day because of all the lessons you have shared. In fact, it was, for me, a real “WWMD” (what would Mary do) day!

    I love Christmas….always have and always will. For some reason, I woke up yesterday morning (Christmas) in a big grouch. I was due to celebrate at my son’s around 2:30. I walked around my house most of the morning with my mind all dark, dreaming up scenarios of some of the people who would be there whom I didn’t want to see. I went through mental gymnastics over what they would say to annoy me and what my retort would be. Then I started thinking about everyone barging in when I wanted some alone-time to give my granddaughters their gifts. On and on I went, muddying the waters of a perfectly clear stream.

    All of a sudden, you popped into my mind and I remembered everything you ever wrote about changing our thoughts and watching the results. And so I did. And I ended up having a really great day, with no annoyances, even from those who normally annoy me!

    Thanks for everything! I’m so glad for all you’ve taught me.

  18. Mary,
    I read your blog daily. I too have felt the pressure of attempting to make everything just “right” for Christmas and all that it entails. From gift giving, to cooking, to maintaining traditions. It is so difficult to manage it all when our own lives, and those of our children, are constantly in a state of transition and change. It is important to “let go” of all the images in our heads of perfection and Norman Rockwell type celebrations.

    We had a friend die on the 19th, and a friend’s 40 yr. old son on the 20th. Add in the Connecticut tragedy, and there was plenty to mourn.

  19. Reading your blog this morning I initially had all kinds of responses in my head but went on to read everyone’s comments and…I think they have nicely covered everything I would have said…nicely done ladies! What a wonderful forum this is to share our thoughts that come from our many different life experiences…I am so thankful for WFF and for you Mary to be back in my life.
    My children don’t hesitate to tell me if they don’t like something I’m doing and I can think of one particular occassion when I was hurt and defensive, totally not in agreement with their thoughts on what I’d done/said. That being said, I thought about it and decided that I would indeed take their comment seriously and see if I could not do better in that situation in the future…all of us have room for improvement I guess.
    Wishing you all a continued Happy Holiday season and wonderful things ahead in the New Year!
    love, Marian

  20. I am a few days late, but very glad that I had the opportunity to read the other comments. Having grown children, who also give me advice on how to celebrate our Christmas, I can appreciate that I am no longer in control. As children grow and spouses/inlaws are involved in our holidays, things must change to make everyone happy. It was my parents, who decided on Christmas Eve, and gave Christmas Day to my husband’s parents. A change in a few hours or
    ingredients in a recipe is nothing compared to the joy of celebrating with my family. Love to you, Mary, and everyone.

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